How to join a football academy in South Africa

John Dennis

Football is one of the most popular sports in South Africa. Therefore, joining a South African soccer academy is a great idea if you are passionate about the sport and would love to develop into a professional player.

But how do you enrol in a football academy, and what are the requirements for joining one? Below, we have compiled all the information on how to join a football academy in South Africa.

Why should you join a football academy?

Football academies offer training programs aimed at developing young football talent. In South Africa, several soccer academies cater to youngsters passionate about football.

Professional clubs run some of these academies, providing a pathway for youth looking to become professional players. 

South Africa also has several football academies that are independent of soccer clubs. This helps to cater to the needs of youths at the grassroots level.

They also offer a pathway for people looking to become professional footballers; pro soccer teams often scout their players.

But what are the benefits of joining a football academy, and what can you expect from one?

South African football academies offer professional coaching and training and a conducive pro football environment, which helps nurture young people’s talent.

Academy training covers strength and conditioning, nutrition and fitness, individual skills and techniques, and team training.

On top of that, as an academy player, you can also expect to play many soccer games. These can include scrimmage during training sessions and friendlies with other academies and youth teams.

In addition, academies also regularly participate in competitions, including youth football tournaments.

How do I register for a football academy in South Africa?

A footballer showcasing his skills
A footballer showcasing his skills. Image:

If you’re looking to join a soccer academy in South Africa, there are several options you can consider. The first is to directly contact the academy you’re interested in and request to join.

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You can find many academies in South Africa that offer regular intakes for new players. Some even have an online football academy registration form that you can fill out to start your journey as a youth player.

Another excellent option for joining a soccer academy is to attend football trials in South Africa. Most academies hold regular open trials, where anyone wishing to join can participate.

The open trials are often announced via social media forums such as the SA Soccer Trials page, academies’ websites, public notice boards, or mainstream media.

Lastly, you can join a football academy by being scouted or through referrals from your current grassroots team.

Like professional soccer clubs, most academies have a scouting network to identify young and promising talent. They also work in partnership with other grassroots teams, often referring youth players to them.

How much does it cost to join a football academy?

What are the soccer academy fees for joining a football academy in South Africa? The fees charged can vary from one academy to the other.

Usually, most academies will charge a membership fee for new players. This can be anywhere between 300 Rand ($16) to 500 Rand ($27) – or higher or lower depending on the academy.

Besides the membership (registration fees), academies can also charge for the price of football kits, coaching, and other services.

For example, the BSI football academy charges 110,000 Rands (approx. $5,985) annually for its youth football development program. The price is inclusive of soccer coaching plus formal education.

Can you join a football academy for free in South Africa?

While soccer academies usually have some fees, you can also find several youth football development programs in South Africa that are free to join.

Mostly, these will be NGO-operated academies, especially those geared towards disadvantaged youths. However, joining elite academies for free is also possible, as some offer scholarship opportunities for talented players.

What are the requirements for joining an academy in South Africa?

Football coaching for kids

Besides the registration fees, most academies will have requirements you must meet before joining. These can include:

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1. A passion for football and good technical ability

Most academies accept players based on their technical skills, with a higher level of skills required in elite youth programs. Besides skills, you also need to have a passion for the sport.

2. Physical fitness

Football is physically demanding; thus, academies require players to be physically fit.

Like with skills, elite academies can have stricter fitness requirements.

3. Medical requirements

Most soccer academies require you to be medically fit to ensure your safety during training and when playing matches.

Some academies might require you to pass a medical examination before being accepted.

4. Age requirements

Football academies are geared toward youth players and thus have age limitations.

In South Africa, soccer academies have programs for players from nine years (and below) to 21 years. However, the age requirements might vary from one academy to the other.

What is the best age to join a football academy?

As long as you meet the age requirements, you can join a football academy at any age. However, if you want to become a professional player, the earlier you join, the better your chances.

Therefore, players who start playing as children can have an advantage over players who join late.

For example, Lionel Messi, one of the top pro footballers in the world, joined an academy when he was six years old.

However, the most common age for joining an academy is around the ages of 13 to 15 years. This is when most people develop an interest in and passion for football. It’s also when youths start growing more rapidly – physically and skill-wise.

However, you can still join an academy at later ages, and there have been several successful pro footballers were late joiners, with others not even going through academies.

Do Academy players get paid?

According to the South African Football Association (SAFA) rules and regulations on football academies, players younger than 17 cannot receive a pro football contract.

In addition, players who receive professional contracts must also terminate their contracts with the academies.

However, the SAFA allows players who join a football academy in South Africa to obtain a basic allowance, which the association’s youth development committee determines.

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While you may not be paid as an academy player in SA, other countries do pay. We recently wrote about how much academy players earn in England.

Famous football academies in South Africa

You can find many academy football teams looking for players in South Africa. Below is a look at the most popular ones and some of the most notable players they have produced.

1. Stars of Africa Football Academy

Stars of Africa Academy

Stars of Africa is a South African football academy based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The club’s training program offers a pathway for youth players looking to start a pro football career. Some of its most notable alums include:

  • Luther Singh –  a South African national team footballer who plays professionally for Danish club Copenhagen (currently on loan to Portuguese Primera Liga side Chaves).
  • Tokelo Anthony Rantie – South African national team player representing Mamelodi Sundowns in the Premier League (tier-1 South African football league). He once played for England’s Premier League Club, Bournemouth.
  • Thibang Phete – South African national team footballer who plays pro football for Al Bataeh, a United Arab Emirates football league side.

2. Young Bafana Soccer Academy

Young Bafana

Young Bafana is an NGO-operated football academy in Cape Town, South Africa.

The academy was launched in 2012 to cater for the needs of disadvantaged South African youths, especially after increased interest in the sport following the country’s hosting of the 2010 world cup.

Some of the most notable academy alums include:

  • Eyona Ndondo – South African footballer representing Cape Town Spurs F.C. in the South African Premier League.
  • Asanda “Zuka” Dyani – a Young Bafana football academy graduate awarded a contract to play for Cape Umoya F.C. in the 2nd Division South African league.
  • Keino Davids – a Young Bafana football academy graduate who received a soccer scholarship from Sheridan College in Wyoming, USA.

3. Orlando Pirates Youth Academy

Orlando Pirates academy

Orlando Pirates is a football academy that serves as the development academy for South Africa’s premier league, Orlando Pirates. Some of its most notable alumni include:

  • Lyle Brent Foster – Lyle Foster was promoted to the Orlando Pirates senior side after graduating from the youth academy. He currently plays for Burnley in England’s EFL championship (2nd division league)
  • Mbongei Gumede – another youth academy graduate promoted to the Orlando Pirates senior side. He plays for AmaZulu, a South African Premier League club.
  • Mthokozisi Dube – South Africa footballer promoted to the Orlando Pirates senior side from the Youth Academy. He currently plays for the South African Premier League Side Royal AM. 

Are you interested in joining a football academy? Have you ever auditioned for one? Let us know your experience and recommendations.

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32 thoughts on “How to join a football academy in South Africa”

  1. I’m from Ghana and l know how to play football but l want to join an academy. How can I join the academy?

  2. I would like to join one of the football academies around South Africa. I am in Pretoria and I am turning 17 yrs old this year.

  3. Hi, I am Sixolelo from Vosloorus, I would like to join this academy to improve my skills as a footballer and be Pro

  4. Please, I am Appiah Daniel and I am from Ghana. I would like to join the academy, but I do not know how to be part of the team.

  5. Hi, my name is Kamogelo from Tembisa Phomolong. I am 20 years old and my position is centre-back. I would like to play for an academy.

  6. Hi, I am Philani Shabalala. I live at Klopfenstein View in Midrand. We always play in our street but I would like to join this academy what must I do? I would be glad if I can be contacted.

  7. I am a young footballer who would like to be a professional footballer one day and would appreciate it if I could join this academy

  8. I want to become a professional soccer player and I want to join a football acedemy academy so that they can help me become pro


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