Fifa funding must foster SA’s talent

2010-12-19 09:45

As TP Mazembe – full name Tout Puissant Mazembe – from Democratic Republic of Congo took on Italy’s Inter Milan in the Fifa Club World Cup final yesterday, South Africans licked their lips in envy.

So will it be when the ­African Footballer of the Year is announced at a glittering ceremony in Cairo, Egypt, ­tomorrow evening.

The announcement that ­Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) and Asamoah Gyan (Ghana) had been short-listed for this ­fancied accolade prompted ­colleague Trevor Neethling to quip: “Why is there no South African player among the ­finalists?”

The answer is simple: South Africa does not have good – or should I say “great”? – players.

This is one of the reasons we hold the record for being the first host nation to be booted out in the first round of the World Cup.

Until our development is in order, properly structured and run, we will fail to reach such heights as the likes of TP ­Mazembe and the ­Drogbas, Eto’os and Gyans of this world. And until our professional clubs start taking Caf competitions seriously.

If the status quo does not change, individuals such as Neethling will remain puzzled about how a country with such world-class facilities and one of the richest leagues in the world always falls short, compared to much poorer nations on the continent.

For this to change, we urge the current South African Football Association (Safa) leadership to utilise the windfall from the World Cup properly to develop talent and building national soccer teams that will conquer the world.

While many – such as Andile Ndengezi (he who suggested that each of the 32 Safa executive members should get ­

a R500 000 bonus from the event) are crying foul, because they thought the money would go down the leg, as has so ­often happened, Fifa’s stroke of genius in suggesting the formation of the (R560-million) 2010 World Cup Legacy Trust should be like manna to our children.

Here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to build such a strong foundation that South Africa will soon be counted among the world-beaters in the game of the pigskin.

Only then will we sit with smiles as wide as the Pacific Ocean every time a big soccer event comes around, as we will be certain that our teams or players will be among the finalists. But this can only happen with proper planning.

Danny Jordaan, the 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee CEO, summed it up when he said: “The success of the World Cup is proof that we can achieve anything, once we apply our mind to it.”

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