Pila’s mis­sion (im)pos­si­ble to unite schools foot­ball

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Only a na­tional schools foot­ball com­mit­tee can re­solve the on­go­ing spat be­tween the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) and the SA Schools Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Sasfa).

This furore will not serve the in­ter­ests of pupils or stake­hold­ers.

The cur­rent im­passe be­tween the two bod­ies has re­sulted in the frag­men­ta­tion of schools foot­ball and the re­sul­tant de­struc­tion of the fu­ture of young­sters in the sport.

Sus­pended Sasfa secretary-gen­eral Steve Pila has em­barked on a mis­sion to es­tab­lish an in­clu­sive schools foot­ball struc­ture.

Pila, who was part of the re­cently launched in­terim com­mit­tee tasked with es­tab­lish­ing a united schools foot­ball body, is con­fi­dent that this struc­ture will suc­ceed in its man­date.

They have been given four months to bring to­gether all stake­hold­ers.

“It’s a tough ask, but we are con­fi­dent we will pull it off. We have to do it for the ben­e­fit of the kids,” he said.

Pila, along with two Sasfa vi­cepres­i­dents – Dickson Moleko and In­no­cent Sirovha – is part of the in­terim com­mit­tee that aims to unify foot­ball splin­ter groups and es­tab­lish an in­te­grated schools foot­ball body.

Safa is rep­re­sented by Mz­imkhulu Fina, David “Brains” Zulu, Vin­cent Ram­phago and Mazwi Mkhize.

Pila was quick to say they had not bro­ken ranks with Sasfa.

“We be­lieve the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of con­flict is counter-pro­duc­tive and af­fects pro­grammes of both Safa and Sasfa. It is not in the in­ter­est of foot­ball or the pupils.”

Pila hopes that, by the end of their life­span, they would have met with all

in­volved and the new struc­ture would be ready to get off the ground. “The new body will be semi­au­tonomous with 70% of ac­tive teach­ers on the com­mit­tee. It will have its [own] ac­count, con­sti­tu­tion and poli­cies, but will re­port to Safa.”

Next week, the com­mit­tee will em­bark on a na­tional road­show to sell its vi­sion to Safa struc­tures, Sasfa, gov­ern­ment, for­mer Model C schools, teach­ers’ unions, stu­dents’ gov­ern­ing bod­ies and spon­sors.

Af­ter 25 years in schools foot­ball, Pila said: “We must face re­al­ity and open our eyes be­cause we are de­stroy­ing the fu­ture of these kids. In fact, we are con­fus­ing them as one week they will at­tend a Sasfa Un­der-16 tour­na­ment, the next week a Safa school’s event for the same age group and then the other Safa Un­der-17 foot­ball tour­na­ment.”

He warned that Safa and Sasfa would lose spon­sors be­cause they could not ful­fil their man­dates.

“We strug­gle to put to­gether 5 000 schools as per the con­tract, and Safa can’t do it ei­ther. What will hap­pen when spon­sors pull the plug? Our pro­grammes will stop and kids will suf­fer. We need ... to work to­wards a com­mon cause.”

Pila has de­nied al­le­ga­tions that he aligned him­self with the new in­terim struc­ture to run schools foot­ball be­cause of his sus­pen­sion from Sasfa.

He has been on sus­pen­sion since April and is wait­ing for the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing to take place.

Sasfa pres­i­dent Mandla Maz­ibuko has re­fused to di­vulge the rea­son be­hind Pila’s sus­pen­sion.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

UNIFIER Steve Pila wants a united schools foot­ball body

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