The SAB League has officially marked 15 years of developing and nurturing some of South Africa’s greatest football talent at grassroots level. South African Football Association (SAFA) and South African Breweries (SAB) official celebrated the milestone, together with Orlando Pirates Defender, Happy Jele and Bafana Bafana Assistant Coach, Thabo Senong, during the official SAB League National Champions Public Draw which took place at the SAB World of Beer in Newtown, Johannesburg, today.

SAB League National Championships 2015 is set to take place from 28 June at the Giant Stadium in Pretoria with 9 provincial teams and one University team, including defending champions, Free State, participating in a round robin event. The tournament will culminate in the final match on Sunday, 5 July. Preceding the much anticipated draw, Jele, Senong, SAFA and SAB officials participated in a panel discussion on the progress of grassroots football development in South Africa and the SAB League’s contribution to its growth over the last decade and half. t Senong, a coaching graduate of the an SAB League and who went on to become the youngest coach to have ever been part of the senior national team, said that the SAB’s partnership with SAFA has provided the ideal platform for young coaches to hone their skills.

“South African football should be competing against the best in the world but for us to achieve this, we need solid structures such as the SAB League for aspiring coaches, both male and female to sharpen their skills for the benefit of our young talent,” said Senong.

Orlando Pirates defender, Happy Jele echoed the sentiments of Senong, attributing his success in the national football world to his time with the SAB League.

“I am one of many South African players who were scouted from the SAB League. I still reminisce with some of the current peers in the Premier Soccer League on our days in the SAB League and how it has contributed to us perfecting our basic football abilities at an early age,” said Jele.

Speaking on behalf of SAB, Mpho Sadiki, SAB’s Head Sustainability and Transformation, reiterated the organisation’s commitment to developing football in the country. “For the past 15 years, we have had the opportunity to bring change in the lives of thousands of young and talented football players. Many of them have gone on to become some of the country’s most successful players at national level. This has always been at the heart of our involvement in the SAB League, developing the country’s future footballers and making a positive impact in our communities.

The SAB League holistic approach to football development is in line with SAFA’s 2022 vision of having a sufficient number of qualified coaches and players in the country.

“Our partnership with SAB has yielded incredible results for our vision as the South African Football Association. We have made significant progress in developing players, coaches and match officials through our 15 year partnership. As the governing body of football in the country, we wish to express our outmost gratitude to our sponsors as we look forward to achieving our 2022 vision” said Nomsa Mahlangu, SAFA NEC Member.