© Sundowns MediaAuthor: Kamokgelo MalingaWith a keen eye for talent and a wealth of experience in player development, Mamelodi Sundowns welcomes Paulo Cardoso to take the helm as the revered Head of Academy and Coaching. As the club strives to remain at the forefront of youth development, Paulo’s arrival heralds a promising era of growth, ambition, and boundless potential.In the ever-evolving world of football, nurturing young talent into skilled athletes has become an indispensable facet of success for any football club. The journey from budding prospects to seasoned professionals requires guidance, expertise, and unwavering dedication. Now, as a new chapter unfolds, the club proudly introduces the visionary leader set to shape the next generation of football stars.

The Mamelodi Sundowns Digital Magazine team had a chat with Paulo Cardsoso about the profound impact he is set to make on the club’s esteemed academy structures.

Holding a qualification in Sports Science, originally from Portugal, Paulo joined the club after having filling various leadership positions in football. He revealed how delighted he is to be a part of Mamelodi Sundowns and how he got to take on his new role with the club’s sporting director, Flemming Berg, leading the process.

“I’m very happy to be here with a big team like Sundowns. I was recruited by Flemming and when we started talking about Mamelodi Sundowns I knew I had to answer the calling. Firstly, this is a notable club and I understood the vision of the Chairman, Tlhopie Motsepe, and the sporting director. I wanted to be a part of what the club is doing in advocating for youth development,“ expressed Cardoso.
Paulo’s Vison for Masandawana’s Rising Stars
The Portuguese national shared what his assignment at the club entails, “The mission is to help and develop South African football through Mamelodi Sundowns. I envision Masandawana having the biggest academy in Africa and a globally recognised youth system. I believe that we can do it for the benefit of South African football.”

Involved in football from a young age, Cardoso was with Sporting CP youth and moved on to play professional football in Portugal. Throughout his career, he has worked as Academy director at Melbourne Victory FC, Technical Coordinator at Sporting CP, and Technical Consultant at the Portuguese FA, KwaZulu Natal SAFA Academy.

With Coaching development being one of the changes and improvements he plans to make, the sportsman shared his strategy to achieve the goals he has set, “We need to have the power to attract the best players in the nation and have the infrastructure to develop these players properly. The link with the Diski team and M Tigers is important to ensure that the players are better prepared to be promoted to a professional football level in order to play for the first team.”

Following his observation of the U15 team that participated in the Kevin De Bruyne (KDB) Cup in Belgium, Masandawana’s Head of Academy noted that the idea for the institution is to have at least one player that can move up the system into the first team every year. He emphasised that the focus is on having the base of the senior team to be largely composed of the players from its academy structures.

Highlighting the importance of competition in the academy structures and the lack of competition in the country, Paulo disclosed his plan of action towards these issues, “Competition is a big part of player development and that is what the country currently lacks. There’s a shortfall of international competitions and tournaments like the KDB Cup are vital for our players in getting exposed to different types and levels of football at a young age.” Paulo further mentioned that the aim is to have all the teams participate in at least one international tournament per season.

He made an example of how teams in Europe and Portugal make it easier for their players to transition to professional football through an increased number of national and international competitions. He added that players need to play the highest level of football which will make them adapt better and prepare for the tactical and psychological challenges as a part of mental and physical player progression.

On steps taken to keep up with the evolving landscape of football, Coach Paulo communicated that he has been fully supported by Coach Sam Mbatha and all the coaches he found in the academy structure. He mentioned that they have been hands-on in creating long-term player development programs, as well as forming a platform where the coaches work together to combine the best techniques from all over the world in order to implement them at the club.
The appointment of the new Head of Academy marks a promising chapter in the club’s youth development structures. With his proven track record and extensive experience in nurturing young talent, Mamelodi Sundowns Academy is in safe hands with his commitment to shaping the future stars of the team.