The 2016/17 Absa Premiership awards that where held in Johannesburg on Monday further illustrated why local players deserve to be given more game time to shine as they took all the accolades.
From the Player of the Season, Player’s Player of the Season and Leading Goalscorer Lebogang Manyama of Cape Town City, his teammate and Midfielder of the Season Aubrey Ngoma to Coach of the Season Gavin Hunt of Bidvest Wits, the PSL awards showed that our local players can produce when given the chance to shine.
Discarded by SuperSport United before a long injury spell at now defunct Mpumalanga Black Aces, Manyama, deserves all the accolades as he showed maturity throughout the entire season.
Not only did the Citizen captain led from the front with his silky and skillful touches, he managed to 13 goals to beat Zimbabwean and Orlando Pirates striker Tendai Ndoro. And that is a sign of a player who was prepared to repay the then faith that coach Erick Tinkler showed in him despite coming from a long injury.
Unlike the past 20 years since the inception of the PSL, the awards have been won by foreigners to leave our local players wondering when will they grab the headlines. From Collins Mbesuma, to Khama Billiat last season, the awards have been captured by outsiders as a testament that they are hungrier and passionate in making their mark.
But a change of heart from the likes of Thulani Hlatshwayo, Daine Klate, Phakamani Mahlambi all of Wits, Abbubaker Mobara of Pirates and Simphiwe Tshabalala of Kaizer Chiefs, who were also rewarded for their sterling season, the previous season send a chilling message to coaches to give locals a chance to play more.
And with the country having benefited from the 2017 Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Korea Republic as our players strutted their staff among the best in the world, it will be nice to see how many make the starting line-up.
Over the years, South Africa has produced excellent players from development structures only to be denied a chance to shine where it matters most. One of the outstanding players who did well when called upon was Mamelodi Sundowns talented defender Motjeka Madisha who was also one of the nominees for the Young Player of the Season.
With his maturity belying his age, the 22 year-old, who played a key role when the Brazilian reserve side won the MDC Challenge is a future star. And having opened more doors for others, our local players are bound to achieve more if given a chance to shine.
With the 2017/18 season a month away, I am looking forward with excitement how many young players are going to be given a chance to shine by their senior teams as they look forward to make yet another local is like when it comes to the end of the season awards that showed why local players can shine when given a chance.
Will see you next week to talk about the beautiful game
Prof: Augusto Palacios