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PSL: Squad Age Breakdown & Average Age

Laduma Analytics dug into some numbers to see how teams have used their squads in the first quarter of the PSL season, in particular which teams are trusting youth with some minutes.

PSL Squads Age Stats

Before the international break, Arsenal’s Ethan Nwaneri made headlines as the youngest ever player to feature in the English Premier League (15y 181d). Naturally, questions about the PSL and its young players emerged, with many pointing to the absence of such exploits on our soil. Oddly, the South African record for a young player making a professional debut is one week earlier than Nwaneri (Mkhanyiseli Siwahla was aged 15y 174d when Ajax played him against Dynamos back in 2004). This conversation took a further turn with the international break, as Hugo Broos lamented our youth structures in his latest expose of South African football. In response, we dug into some numbers to see how teams have used their squads in the first quarter of the PSL season, in particular which teams are trusting youth with some minutes.

Because we’re only 25% into the season, and the transfer window just closed, we’ve kept this very high level, and focused on two things:

  • The proportionate breakdown of each team based on 4 player segments (Teenagers, Young Players, Prime-age players and Older players)
  • Squad’s average age that played this season (not just general squads)

SuperSport have always been leaders when it comes to youth minutes, but Stellenbosch and Chippa United are slowly following suit. These are the only three teams to have given Over 2000 minutes to players 23 and under this season. Cape Town City (1827 minutes) are also worth a mention, and we’ll see more of them later.

Minutes given to Players U23
Chippa United3301
Stellenbosch FC2363
SuperSport United2170

The vertical bar charts below shed more clarity team by team. City, Stellenbosch, Chippa and TS Galaxy have seen a higher proportion of youngsters on the pitch (blue bars). Whereas SuperSport led for youngsters in the last few years, they have kept their core group of now 20-24-year-olds, and that seems to also stand out (orange bar). Sundowns, Sekhukhune and Chiefs have seen prime players as the highest proportion that plays in their squads (red bars).

The horizontal graph below helps with the comparison across the league, with categories labelled for emphasis. The disadvantage of stacked bar graphs like these is that it’s harder to compare the middle bars. But again, the blue subcategory (Youngsters) is quite easy to see. The team with the highest proportion of young players getting a rub of the green is Cape Town City, with Stellenbosch (12%) & TS Galaxy (11%) also in double digits. 

This brings us to a third way of measuring squad usage by age – the average age of squads that have started at least one game. It’s a question we get very common – which team has the lowest average age in the PSL? A quick google search may show you the average of players registered at the club. The PSL is full of youngsters, but some never get to actually be on the field of play. To make the comparison fair, we’ve only included players with at least one start this season.

Stellies come out tops here, with an average age of 24.5, closely followed by Chippa United. Swallows & Arrows are also among the leading teams for youngest average squads, while Royal AM, TS Galaxy and Marumo Gallants anchor the table. Lots can still change when it comes to squad profiles of player usage. We’ll revisit this at the end of Q2 and see if there are any major changes.

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