6 April 2018 – A centralised online player registration system aims to kick corruption out of South Africa’s football leagues and make it easier for local associations to verify players and organise competitions.
The platform, MySAFA is part of a digital player registration and competition management project by the South African Football Association (SAFA) and has been gaining momentum over the past few months.
Over 83 000 football players have been registered nationally on MYSAFA since it was first soft-launched in the Eastern Cape in February 2017. Almost 40% of these players were registered in the first few months of 2018.
MYSAFA allows any coach, referee or football official to easily check the authenticity and eligibility of a player electronically.
Historically, players competing in official leagues were registered locally at one of 341 SAFA Local Football Associations (LFA) or 52 regional offices.
The result of this decentralised approach was a lot of confusion about who played SA’s most popular sport. Identity theft and age cheating was also a common problem in some leagues and there were very few data-driven ways to scout talent.
The introduction and rapid adoption of MYSAFA is building in a centralised understanding of who plays football at local levels, as well as where they play and how they perform. There has also been a drop-in cheating-related disciplinary cases since its launch.
SAFA aims to pass 500 000 registrations by the end of 2018 and expects to have over 1.3 million players registered by the end of 2019. The app works through both an online portal and a mobile app.
When a player wants to register for an organised league they give their SAFA LFA a completed registration form and other required information. An administrator at the LFA inputs the player’s ID number and their information is auto-completed via an API [application programming interface] to the Department of Home Affairs.
This allows the administrator to verify that the person is who they say they are. MYSAFA also checks the player isn’t currently registered with other leagues or clubs. When the player’s registration is verified they are then given a player identity card which is printed centrally and distributed to each region.