Let me start by saying I’m a South African sports fanatic. I support just about any team or person representing South Africa. You name the sport and I will be behind the South Africans all the way.
Unfortunately this is not the case with our “National Soccer Team”. Yes I know. Some of you will say I’m a white guy so I won’t support a traditionally black sport. Get over yourself. This is 2012 and not 1986. We are way past that. Just because I don’t agree with the way things are, does not make me a racist at all.
Keep in mind that I am referring to the current situation in SA Soccer but this has been the overall trend for the last 20 years.
Let’s have a look at the current AFCON Bafana Squad. We have 7 overseas based players, 7 players from Kaiser Chiefs, 4 from Orlando Pirates, 2 from Mamelodi Sundowns, 1 from Maroka Swallows and 1 from Bloemfontein Celtic. Now these numbers do not seem like much because Chiefs and Pirates are top of the PSL log and they should have the most players in the squad. But like I said. This is the norm over the last 20 years even when Chiefs and Pirates were not performing well in the League.
The point is that the majority of players in the national squad are always from Soweto clubs. You might even ask why Sundowns, 10th in the league, have 2 players in the squad while teams like Platinum Stars and Free State Stars, 3rd and 4th in the league, have none. Yes I know. Supporters of these clubs would say I’m being stupid. But wait, there is more.
During the last 20 years Bafana played 133 home internationals. 49 of these were played in Johannesburg, 11 in Pretoria. Cape Town hosted 5. Now being from the Western Cape this is quite an issue for me. 2 of these were in the early 1990’s, so basically in the last 18 years we had 3 internationals. Once every 6 years we can go and see and support our national team. Those 5 games were only friendlies against lowly international teams. We have never seen one of the powerhouse teams play against Bafana. Jamaica, UAE, Denmark etc. Not once did they host a Bafana game in Cape Town during a tournament. 2006, 2010 or 2013.
Let us bring these two issues together and it will make more sense to you. Supporters love to see their local heroes play in the national teams. This goes for Rugby, Cricket and Soccer. The more Stormers in the Springbok team the better for me. Seeing that most of the Internationals are being played in Gauteng than anywhere else in the country it would only make sense to have more players from there in the team. SAFA knows that with n large number of Soweto based players in the squad they can almost be assured of a large crowd at any Gauteng stadium.
If there was a soccer Currie Cup I would view Bafana as the Gauteng Lions team. Most of their players are from there and they play most of their games there. Every once in a while they have an away game. Tournaments are always played at their home ground.
I don’t know how much influence Irvin Khoza, Chairman of the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Chairman of Orlando Pirates Football club, and Kaizer Motaung, Member of Executive Committee SAFA and Chairman and MD of Kaizer Chiefs Football Club, have when teams and venues are selected. I’m sure they must look after their own interests and the interest of their players and supporters.
We are getting sick of the old excuse that tournaments are held where the logistics are easier so that is why it is always in Gauteng and not in other parts of the country. If Rugby and Cricket can host tournaments all over South Africa then so can Soccer. Stop using it as an excuse.
I sincerely hope that SAFA will realize that Bafana is our National team and that every South African has the right to support them and see them play on a regular base. Players from all teams have a fair opportunity to play for Bafana and not only if you from certain teams.
Until that day arrives……viva Côte d'Ivoire viva