Feyenoord forge Free State link

Feyenoord have formed a development programme in partnership with the Free State Province and SimSport International.

The initiative titled 'The Free State International Football Programme (FSIFP) initially began in 2010 in collaboration with English League One side Bolton Wanderers, but has since been expanded to include the development of coaches within the region.

The programme has already unearthed a gem in Tyrone Mondi, who was recently included in the South Africa Under-20 squad to face Lesotho in a CAF African Youth Championship qualifier.

Simsport representative Rasthoem Simons highlighted why they brought the Eredivisie club on board, telling Goal: "When they [Bolton] got relegated, the partnership was not as big commercially and on the football side, it did not give the players a realistic opportunity to make it to top leagues.

"We ended up finding Feyenoord, who have a very good track record in developing players, and a good track record in discovering South African players like Kermit [Erasmus] and Kamohelo [Mokotjo]."

Gido Vader, head of international relations at De Kuip, reiterated Simons' sentiments and stated that the project is about giving opportunities to the youth and nurturing their talents.

"The project is about a couple of things, it's talent development, it's about giving opportunities, it's about giving a positive experience, a chance for kids to work with experienced and quality coaches.

"Our coaches are very experienced and qualified; they start working at a younger age. Players in Holland, when they are 15, they have at least nine years of solid training; and in South Africa at 15 it is only really starts.

"We see a lot of raw talent here. Physically, [they are] probably more talented than Dutch boys are, but on the tactical and understanding side of things, that's where we really can add value.

"We expose coaches to how we do things at Feyenoord. For instance, we arranged a friendly against his football school of one of the coaches we have been working with, and you could already see that he has implemented some of the things into his own football school.

"So we are looking to expanding on the coaching development side. We can always work with 30 kids, but if you work with 30 coaches, you end up working with 100's of kids because that knowledge will spread that much."