Many are passionate about soccer
IT’S said you get the leaders you deserve. From a football perspective in South Africa, this is true. The SA Football Association (Safa) has stumbled from one crisis to the next since it started running football.
The national teams keep failing to qualify for the top tournaments and the overall structure and running of the game has many faults.
There are many good people in the association who are passionate about what they do, but the top is rudderless and without a vision.
Even though Safa appears to be operating in a cocoon, rendering it incapable of serious introspection, the saving grace is that the game is alive and well at grass-roots and amateur levels.
This is the lifeblood of the game and the main reason football continues to survive and grow. At this level, administrators, coaches, parents and players are passionate about the game – and this is evident in all communities, cities and townships.
The countless administrators and coaches who give of their time and effort a few times a week for no compensation, are the true heroes of the game.
Thousands of young players travel vast distances to be able to train and play at a decent club. These kids do their best to scrape together money so that they do not miss any sessions.
The Safa hierarchy has been at loggerheads with itself at a national level for three years, and in this time a parallel structure has been established. An outsider looking on could interpret this as a comedy show.
Are there no rules that are being observed by everyone? Have there been court orders handed down as to who can run football in the country? Why isn’t the Safa constitution adhered to and respected?
People are getting fed up with this untenable scenario, and Safa may soon find they have no one left to govern.
Most people who understand football and just want to play the game are voting with their feet.
An example was the recent Marilyn Mews Easter Tournament organised by the Durban Central Football Association at Tills Crescent in Durban. It was the 14th edition of this prestigious event.
Since there were two separate Safa structures in Durban, most of the clubs were split. This has led to the Easter Tournament being watered down with neither side able to showcase the best football. But the Durban Central Football Association managed to attract numerous clubs from the “opposite side of the fence”, and this year expectations were exceeded. Up to 60 teams took part in different categories.
The competition in the senior section was intense, with amateur and semiprofessional teams going toe-totoe. This is what people want to see.
The winners who walked off with the R20 000 first prize were Kwamashu All Stars, who edged out Greenwood Park Friends 3-0 in the final.
The tournament went smoothly, was well-run, and served to unify football for an entire weekend, which was fantastic to see. Next year’s tournament is expected to be bigger and better.
Safa needs to take a long, hard look at itself because the patience of the clubs is diminishing and soon they will be voting in numbers by choosing football over politics.
South Africans deserve the best. Let’s get back on track.
Coppola is a former professional footballer, a coach and adminstrator.