We caught up with Ajax Cape Town youth coach and Urban Warriors club legend, Nathan Paulse, during lockdown to talk all things South African football.
Paulse enjoyed a glittering professional career which lasted close to two decades. The 38-year-old is now forging a successful career after football and hopes to make an impact in the future generation of football stars.
South African football is currently on halt due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has killed over 160 000 people worldwide, according to the latest statistics published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as of 19 April 2020.
Nathan, how do you think Covid-19 will affect South African football in the long run?
Nathan Paulse: I think it’s important to note that football has already changed, my favourite quote comes from [Liverpool head coach] Jurgen Klopp where he stated: “Football is the most important thing of the least important things right now.”
I am hoping that it’s given the individuals in power time to reflect and iron out the things that are important. It has highlighted that players health is important and that players can be positive influences when trying to combat something so devastating.
So does that mean South Africa has time to reflect on our own football policies and procedures?
Nathan Paulse: If I am honest we are always reflecting, but it would be nice if there was action rather than talking. Maybe this is the push we all need.
Do you think South African footballers have used this time wisely thus far?
Nathan Paulse: That’s a layered question, everyone will have to face alone time, naturally some will use this time to stay fit or build their skill set and others will use it as well needed rest.
I told my juniors that what you do with your time in lockdown is up to you but those of you who come back to training and you have been left behind by those who worked on themselves during this time, don’t be surprised!
What are you missing the most about football?
Nathan Paulse: Aaah man I love training the boys and preparing them for the match, there is something special in watching a young player grasp a training session and put it to use in a match — it gives me a great sense of pride. The other thing I miss is watching weekend football, man I miss it.
I think we all miss watching football, how do see the leagues playing out this season and if you were in charge what would you do?
Nathan Paulse: This is the burning question and obviously I want us to continue from where we left off, but the reality of this is not going to suite what we want, there are far too many complications with a prolonged season which boils down to contracts of players and clubs because contracts don’t cater for these issues.
What do you do if a player must leave by June but you need him for promotion or relegation? If you look at the other solution of just promoting and relegating those teams as they stand then you face angry team owners.
In my humble opinion, ask yourself what’s the argument here, so I would push the teams to 18 in the league with no relegation, by doing so you allow Ajax Cape Town up to the top stream and you let three teams from second to fourth in the GladAfrica Championship fight out promotion for the other spot in the Absa Premiership for next season.
That will free up two spots at the bottom — then you take all the first placed teams in the ABC into the normal promotion playoffs. Is it a perfect solution? Maybe not, but none of them are, this just solves a small area of argument which is who gets relegated and who gets promoted.
What would your message be to the fans?
Nathan Paulse: Just keep working on yourselves during this lockdown. Please keep to the rules set out by the government during lockdown and stay at home so that we can slow this coronavirus down. Stay home, stay safe.