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Soccer - Transforming South Africa

19 July 2014, 22:40

South Africa must be taken on a journey that will lift the competitiveness of the country to higher international levels. Presently South Africa ranks 53rd on the Global Competitiveness Index for 2013 / 2014 and 66th in the 2014 FIFA / Coca-Cola Soccer World Ranking.

Our society is in dire need of social and economic achievements that will build a deep sense of national pride in the nation, raise levels of social engagement and calm the storm of social conflict. Soccer can be the hot-air balloon to fly South Africa out of the post-apartheid social climate of grievance, strife, mediocrity, greed and despair, into a climate of engagement, responsibility, accountability, confidence, pride and celebration.

The South African economy will only turn around when the attitude and behaviour of people are hooked to the wings of a vision and spiritual bond induced by victory and pride. A vision, mission and strategy to conquer the best soccer teams in the world would resonate in every sector of our community and economy and inspire the breakout attitude we need for economic and social transformation.

The quick disappearance of the South African national soccer team from the 2014 FIFA World Cup games was a major disappointment for millions of South Africans. The fact that two teams from Africa, Algeria and Nigeria, made it to round 16, the round before the quarter finals, inflicted even more pain, bitterness and sadness. We must move on, but with a new vision for the country – a country without conflict and grievance, filled with unlimited opportunities for economic and sport participation, achievement and self-realization.

Making soccer the hot-air balloon to lift us out of our present misery will require a complete reshaping of our present soccer scenario. Germany, the FIFA 2014 World Cup champion, is ranked first in the 2014 FIFA / Coca-Cola World Rankings. Germany with a population of 81 million people has 6.3 million registered soccer players, playing in 26, 837 clubs with 159 000 officials in support. South Africa with 52 million people has 1.4 million registered players, playing in 900 clubs with 21 000 officials in support and ranks 66th.  South Africa is trailing in the Africa rankings with a ranking of 12th behind the African leaders Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana. Algeria with a population of 38 million is ranked first in Africa and 24th in the world and has more than 2000 clubs with 24 500 officials.

It is clear that a strategy must be put to work to expose more young people to competitive soccer through youth academies, to register and coach more adult players and to create more clubs. A new vision for soccer is needed to make South Africa internationally more competitive and build a brand that will induce national worship and international respect.

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