Former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana defender Neil Tovey has pointed out that the lack of strong football development structures in private schools is to blame for South Africa missing the mark in producing great white defenders.
Back in the days, South African football managed to produce great white defenders who played a huge role in their teams and in the national team.
In the past, Mark Fish, Toney Coyle, Tovey and Matthew Booth were among defenders that played huge roles in their teams, Bafana Bafana and they even plied trade in Europe because of qualities they possessed.
However, lately things have changed, as Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United are the only teams in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) that have white defenders produced locally.
“I think we have to go back to our schools as they are very important to the future of our football. At the moment, we are not touching in all our schools, and the talent comes from schools. We have more structures put in place to develop football in our schools. So, hopefully this will create more positive impact. We have many white youth talented and interested in other sporting codes like cricket and rugby. So, we have to get their attraction and create path to the soccer as well,” said Tovey.
White defenders who made their mark in SA football
Fish is among locally produced white defenders who played for Jomo Cosmos and Pirates before making his move to Europe where he played for Charlton Athletic, Bolton Wanderers in England and Lazio in Italy.
Coyle played for Wits University, currently known as Bidvest Wits, before penning with the Russian club Rostov back in 2003. He then came to pen with Pirates where he didn’t make any noticeable mark. He also played for Bafana Bafana which saw him earn only 12 caps.
Matthew Booth, a tall and thin defender also had his times in local and global football as he played for Cape Town Spurs and Mamelodi Sundowns before flying to Russia for Rostov and Krylia Sovetov. Booth managed to make only 37 caps with Bafana.
He retired playing for Bidvest Wits in 2014.
Gavin Lane played professionally for Giant Blackpool, Pirates, Moroka Swallows and AmaZulu and also represented South Africa. During his career he was known as “Stability Unit” and was a part of Pirates 1995 African Cup of Champions Clubs winning squad.
Mark Tovey, Neil’s brother played for Durban City before signing with Chiefs in 1988. He won six trophies with Chiefs during his stint at Naturena.
Keegan Richie from Pretoria-based team SuperSport United.
Chief’s duo Daniel Cardoso and Lorenzo Gordinho, and Marc van Heerden from Pirates are among the white defenders currently playing in the Premier Soccer League.
Another young promising defender who has not made any visible mark yet is Gordinho’s younger brother, Anthony who plays for Wits.