Credibility of All Africa Games at risk over timing

2011-09-17 14:40

How relevant are the All Africa Games (AAG) in the scheme of things?

To the uninitiated, this is the sporting event that started in Maputo on September 3 and ends today.

By the look of things they are not very relevant if South Africa’s attitude towards them is anything to go by.

However, while Mzansi has been accused of treating continental and regional sporting shindigs with disdain, there are many grounds on which they can be exonerated.

The organisers must really think hard about the timing of the AAG and put an effort into having global sporting bodies recognise them as a relevant event worthy of being slotted into the already chock-a-block world sporting calendar.

That they are taking place at the back of the Athletics World Championships and while the IAAF Diamond League season is in full swing has robbed the event of the likes of Caster Semenya.

South Africa sent three weak teams to the tournament.

Shakes Mashaba was forced to take a second rate Under-23 team after some Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs refused to release their players.

The South African Football Association (Safa) had to create a second Banyana Banyana – senior women’s soccer team – as they had a commitment to play Ethiopia in the second and final leg of an Olympic Games qualifier.

Netball South Africa scrambled around to organise a team to participate at the Games as most senior players and members of the technical team were not available.

As mentioned earlier, South Africa cannot be blamed for this confusion.

The PSL clubs are well within their rights as this event does not fall inside the Fifa calendar.

It was more vital for Banyana to qualify for the Olympics than chase gold at the AAG.

The netball team had just returned from the Netball World Championships and players had to catch up with their studies while others had exhausted their leave.

Caf’s refusal to alter Banyana’s Olympic Games qualifier against Ethiopia, while allowing Cameroon and Nigeria to do same, leaves much to be desired.

South Africans cannot be blamed for thinking like one retired professional footballer who quipped that people from his village “eat me jealous” meaning they were jealous of his achievements, a direct translation of ba njela mona or bangidlela umona.

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