Football excellence meets academic excellence in partnership to scientifically enhance the game of football

Posted on March 08, 2021

The University of Pretoria (UP) and Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club today announced a groundbreaking partnership that seeks to vastly enhance the game of football and the development of it through science, technology and scientific research.

Mamelodi Sundowns has accumulated football knowledge over the past 50 years and established itself as a leading club in South Africa and on the African continent, and has also participated at the FIFA Club World Cup, the highest-level global Club football event. 

This five-year agreement means the partners will collaborate in growing and improving the game of football through knowledge-sharing from both parties, and providing training opportunities for up-and-coming youth players. 

The future success of South African and African football will be greatly enhanced by introducing the academic research and development benefits, facilities-sharing from institutions such as UP, and the football technical training, strategic knowledge and football experience found in clubs like Mamelodi Sundowns. 

UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe explained that, “In the world of high-performance sport, building strategic relationships and partnerships is crucial. Through finding ways of developing mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships, sporting organisations, clubs and professional teams are able to seek new and exciting ways to solve old and current challenges.

“UP has a rich heritage of academic excellence, but this also holds true for the sporting performances and development of young up-and-coming talent across all our 30+ sporting codes. Therefore, the relationship fit between Mamelodi Sundowns and UP was an easy one. Our broader sporting objectives are similar, which include the development of young sporting talent, providing the platform for individuals to become great student-athletes, providing hope for athlete’s post-sport, and showcasing sporting excellence both locally and continentally.”

TuksSport Director Steven Ball welcomed the collaboration. “We will lean on each other’s programmes, strengths and areas of successes. Through this cooperation, TuksFootball coaches will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with Sundowns coaches and structures and to share knowledge, which will assist to challenge, enhance and improve our club’s systems and structures.”

The collaboration in part entails Sundowns providing advice and support to TuksFootball’s already successful coaching services, while seeking new ways to develop footballers. Both parties will be involved in the development of annual programmes for the various age groups.

Some of the Sundowns teams, along with their sport science and medical staff, will link up with UP’s sport science and medical service providers, such as UP’s High Performance Centre (HPC) and the Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Institute (SEMLI), to help improve their offerings to players within their structures. “Sundowns will play certain matches within the UP Sport campuses, while also encouraging players to study at UP to secure their futures post football,” Ball said. “The relationship will help UP and TuksSport to achieve the mandate set by our Vice-Chancellor ‘to become the sporting powerhouse in Africa.’”

Dr Patrice Motsepe, President and owner of Mamelodi Sundowns, said, “Mamelodi Sundowns is always looking for technical and scientific ways to improve its performances and to be a globally competitive football club. Although the club has achieved some great feats in the recent past, including winning the 2016 CAF Champions League, the African Continent’s highest honour; the 2017 CAF Super Cup, as well as in 2020 winning a record-breaking tenth Premier Soccer League title, there is still vast room for improvement in the club’s performances and methods.”

The partnership with UP is part of our long-term commitment to investing in our youth and our academies for both boys and girls, and our focus on using sport science, technology and modern football methodologies to be competitive on the African continent and globally. We are confident that the partnership between Mamelodi Sundowns and UP will benefit South African football and Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana, our National under-23, under-20 and under-17 teams, as well as football across Africa. We also recognise the broader socio-economic obligations that we have to the people of South Africa and the continent, and we consider this partnership to be a humble contribution in this regard.”

- Author Primarashni Gower

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