Justin Asher interviewed by Joshua Hendricks, 6th May 2021.

As youth and amateur football returns this month, local football associations (LFA’s) prepare for a season in a COVID-19 environment. Over the next coming weeks we will look at the three major LFA’s in Cape Town: Cape Town Tyberberg LFA, Rygate LFA and Cape District LFA.

We spoke to Justin Asher, speaking in his new role as the General Secretary of Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association (CTTFA).

Justin Asher - CTTFA

Justin Asher, General Secretary of Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association (CTTFA) pictured at the CTTFA office in Rosebank.

League Preparations

“It’s obviously been fairly tricky. We’ve had a number of issues to deal with. Everyone is very wary of the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic [is] very much here. There is a lot of things we have to put in place, a lot of checks and balances. We getting there and doing everything we can to ensure a safe environment for everyone.”

Procedures

From what I’ve gathered every club needs to have at least one or two or even more compliance officers. They also have a compliance officer within the CTTFA. What they have done is issue a basic check list to clubs to ensure that they are able to remain compliant throughout the process. Clubs are responsible for doing their own random checks at their base for ensure that things run smoothly. SAFA Cape Town has also issued complaint certificates to all clubs. This means that all clubs have to display their compliance certificates and this in turn will show that that they have taken the standard steps and necessary efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

CTTFA added advice

“We’ve adapted where necessary, one of the major instructions would be no spectators, this is quite a big one. Also just to generally take precautions. Keep changing rooms closed. We’ve given advice with screening procedures. What best way to do it, how to record people coming in and out. The procedure is very much standardized.”

Cape Town Tygerberg LFA has always been known to try new things to improve the quality of the football, making the best of the current situation and taking the clubs into account. Tweaking the junior structures for the last couple of years have been one of them. Understanding that the size of the LFA demands for constant tweaking to ensure the league stays competitive, fair and organized.

“We have clubs coming from varying corners of the City. Trying to keep everyone happy and also ensuring we have a competitive environment. It has always been something we aspire to. We’ve also made a number of changes operationally within the Association. We can just ensure that our administration is at a top, top level. Also creating a very professional environment for all our clubs and we want them to feel like they are in the most professional LFA in Cape Town. We doing our best to achieve that.”

“We also have a new LFA President this year, Donovan Neilson, so that also brings a new energy and thinking and different ideas. That’s an exciting thing to speak about”, said Justin Asher.”

Youth Structure: Differences and improvements

Justin then goes into more detail when describing some of the innovations and changes that helps development as well as constraints that clubs have had and may face in the future.

“The last few years we’ve had teams in every age group. E.g. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18. This year we’ve gone with U12, 14, 16, and 18. We’ve build a system now that allows clubs to participate in a Club vs Club day. So all your age groups will play against the same club. Before we had 12s going to one venue and 14s another. They’d be scattered across the city.”

“The new format also means that your club as whole accumulate points in the junior structure. So we take into account the points that your 12s, 14s, 16s, 18s make on match-day. If you have a struggling U12 team for example then you need to have a competitive U18 team so you avoid being relegated into a lower division come the following year. So instead of one team being relegated the club carries the relegation now.”

“It’s been a contentious issue in the LFA sometime but this will take a couple of years for everyone to get settled and accepted.”

“The main thing is the Club vs Club days. The ability for the whole club to host together or travel together. Rather than only having only one home game.
It works because then you don’t have a situation where one team needs to play away somewhere in Somerset at 8 o’clock in the morning.”

“So this new format will also assist clubs with bringing down those travelling expenses.”

Challenges faced with preparations

One of the major challenges CTTFA faced is that the staff are full time employees so the productivity and effectiveness of the association has been affected during the pandemic. Especially their current working hours. Justin also elaborates on the issues of cards.

“We’ve sitting with a huge amount of backlog with our cards, SAFA Cape Town have put in contingency plans for registration. We cannot play competitive football without cards. So clubs have already decided that our junior setup for 2021 will not have promotion and relegation. Partly because of registration and not knowing who would come back and how parents would feel about participating in football.”

Protocols and Implementation

The narrative of this segment was always about the role of the association. Which is to regulate and administer football. The association are not there to constantly monitor protocols because clubs generally need to take the responsibility as they usually do.

“We do have a LFA Compliance officer. So if there is complaints then that person will go out to venues and see why they not compliant and assess the situation.”

Justin has also requested clubs to work with each other, to work together so that football is played, and that all venues and all clubs are compliant. Making sure that protocols are put in place and observed.  

Readiness of Clubs and their Excitement

“Everyone has been ready to go since October 2019 when the season ended. We’ve had friendlies. The main issue will be if cards will be ready in time for Promotional leagues (Premier division, 1st division and 2nd division).”

“If we could kick off tomorrow we would, pending the availability of cards.”

“There is a couple of new faces which is great to see but we’ve maintained consistency for the most part.”

The Cape Town Tygerberg FA 2021 season kicks off 15th May 2021.

Executive Committee Restructure

New President Donovan Neilson
New Role General Secretary: Justin Asher
Vice President of Youth Football: Grant Scholtz
Vice President of Senior Football and Registration Portfolio: Riedewaan Anthony
Vice President of Ladies Football: Desiree Da Silva

Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association online:

COMING SOON LFA’s return to football. Part 2: Rygate Football Association

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