TALKING FOOTBALL

2015-10-22 06:00

ECONOMISTS, social scientists and many leaders have warned our country about the economic gap between the poor and rich. Football is also facing a similar situation. The gap between football and other sports, particularly at school level, is huge.

The majority of formerly white schools use the funds contributed by pupils mainly for rugby and cricket. It will take many years for football to catch up with other sports codes. I still have to see a school with a director of football, while almost all “elite” schools have such posts for other codes.

I am sure our politicians will always find it difficult to challenge this situation because of their rugby and cricket-playing sons. The poor schools in the townships and rural areas­ lack basic football facilities. The situation is worse at community level. We battled with training facilities in the past. A number of Imbali football teams used to practice in town i.e. on the fields next to the Royal Showgrounds.

The situation has not improved. The fields that costs lots of money a few years back were never maintained.

There is very little money spent to make lives of the poor more comfortable. A young boy from Unit 14, for instance schooling in France, has no chance of growing his football abilities. There is no facility in his community or at school. Training equipment e.g. balls, boots, etc., are unaffordable and there is no technical leader within the community or the school. Parents are probably earning less than R2 000 a month. This makes it difficult to provide balanced meals for someone involved in high intensity training programme. Medical care is non-existent - the list is endless.

It will be to the benefit of the rich and privileged to address these economic imbalances. Everyone complains about high levels of violent crime. The majority of young people in our poor areas lack basic necessities of life. The majority of their schools are dysfunctional, frustrations of unemployment, a lack of recreational facilities and opportunities lead to alcohol and drug abuse. The lack of support with material things like clothing makes crime and easy money attractive options.

Schools will soon be closing for the December holidays. The rich will be off to coast or abroad with their children. A number of children from rich families will be attending summer sporting camps. I remember a few years back, when Zeph Mthembu played professional football for African Wanderers. He used to organise sporting events for young boys and girls in Imbali. He used the money he earned from playing football professionally. Today, most people who grew up in the townships are in charge of government or private coffers.

It is a shame that many boys and girls will be roaming the streets in a few weeks from now. What stops those people from providing sports and recreation to offer meaningful programmes during this period? It is important that we address these issues before it is too late. The material circumstances of the majority of young black children have not changed in the past 20 years. Surely, there have been a lot of challenges for a changing country. We should not have constructed stadiums worth a fortune to impress the world. This could have been used better to create educational and sporting opportunities for our youth.

Unzima lo mthwalo

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