The SAB and ABC Motsepe Leagues have both proven to be a solid stepping-stone to greater success for a multitude of players, teams, coaches, referees as well as administrators.
The SAB League is the fourth tier of South African football and the second highest tier controlled by the South African Football Association (SAFA). This particular league has an impressive 1000+ teams and includes close to 30 000 players.
At the heart of the success of the SAB League lies the special relationship between SAFA and sponsor. SAB’s commitment to grassroots development with the aim of creating future stars of the game, is both commendable as well as praiseworthy. SAB’s long-lasting relationship and love affair with South African Football stretches as far back as the 1950s right up until current times with its loyal sponsorship of the senior national team Bafana Bafana.
Further to this is a broader goal of both SAB and SAFA to drive socio-economic change in poorer communities via sport and an inherent desire to inspire young footballers to improve their overall livelihoods. SAB aim to alleviate poverty, prevent underage drinking and run annual life skills workshops. The proof is in the proverbial pudding as it is this way of thinking that has brought positive change to many footballers lives and delivered to them untold success. This approach has also thus provided great benefits for South African football as a whole as well.
This has all been achieved with the sole aim of identifying and nurturing young football talent from a tender age, all the way up to the highest levels. This ultimately provides a solid springboard for players who indeed have the necessary skills and tools to succeed. Evidence lies in the fact that many players who have plied their trade in the SAB League have then gone on to participate in the lucrative Premier Soccer League (PSL), one of the biggest and richest leagues on the continent. These very same players have then gone onto representing their national team as well as be scouted by top international clubs.
Popular SAB League alumni include the likes of Andile Jali, Themba Zwane and Reneilwe Letsholonyane amongst others.
Jele has previously attributed his success to the SAB League itself by stating: “I am one of many South African players who were scouted from the SAB League. I still reminisce with some of my 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”.
Bafana assistant coach Thabo Senong is a another fine example of being a product of the SAB League as the youngest ever coach to be part of the senior national team. The league has also been known to constantly offer clinics and official licensed courses to upskill coaches.
SAB’s ambassadors over the years includes none other than football legend John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu who conducted coaching clinics and imparted valuable skills to youth which went a long way to inspiring and motivating them towards better things.
The League’s holistic approach to development is in line with SAFA’s 2022 vision of having a sufficient number of qualified coaches and players in the country and all-in-all, this particular league provides a steady grounding for players, coaching staff and match-officials that ensure sustainability in the long run.
The ABC Motsepe League, sponsored by none other than Patrice Motsepe, is the current second division and overall third tier of South African football which features close to 150 teams.
Doing well here means teams will be step away from the Premier League and this in itself is a huge motivation for players, teams, coaches as well as match officials and administrators who wish to impress, with the aim of moving up into the higher echelons of South African football.
This particular league matches the SAB League in terms of high-end sponsorship and is backed by the Motsepe foundation. The foundation, like SAB, aims to drive amateur football and ensure necessary growth. They provide youngsters with the opportunity to impress and enter a professional league.
The league is named after the late Mr ABC Motsepe senior in what is an apt nod to the legacy of a man who was a school principal and committed to the growth and development of youth. This also links nicely to another sponsored initiative, the Kay Motsepe Schools Cup which also strives to provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth.
Numerous players from this league have graduated up to the National First Division (NFD), Premier League and further up to the main national team as well as globally. Scouts are always present at ABC League games and play-offs with the aim of unearthing talent for various national teams.
Added to this, the league itself is very lucrative. The overall winners of the competition each season receive prize money of R1 million (R800 00 will go to the club, with the other R200 000 to aid youth development), while the runners-up get R500 000.
Overall, both leagues seem to be fantastic stepping-stones to greater success.
A superb example of success via these leagues is Chippa United FC. This club climbed up the ranks through both leagues all the way up to the Premier League where they have punched above their weight. 2016 saw them finish 6th and also gain a semi-final spot in the MTN 8.
SAFA in conjunction with SAB and the Motsepe Foundation are 100% committed to sustaining as well as enhancing and improving both leagues for many decades to come.