Given the underperformance of South Africa’s national teams in the recent past – this includes the Proteas, by the way – it is time for the country’s football authorities to face some tough questions and give some honest answers.
I will limit this to football because this column is dedicated to the game of the pigskin.
These questions must not only be directed at those in charge of the game, but at the entire football fraternity.
Honest answers to these questions would see the game grow and take the path it is supposed to follow.
No more going back to the drawing board, because that horse has been flogged to death.
No more football indabas, as that one is also long dead.
Just serious introspection, asking and answering some very tough and sticky questions to the best of people’s ability.
Among the questions that need to be addressed are:
. Do we have the right people leading our football?
. What is their mandate and are they fulfilling it?
. Does South Africa have the right quality of players to not only participate but win at international level?
. Are we really a football-loving nation?
. Are we leaders or just mere followers of football?
. Do we utilise the resources that we have correctly, and to their utmost potential?
. Do we use the correct methods and follow the right processes when appointing national coaches?
. Do we have and use the correct selection process when picking players for national teams?
. What are the criteria used to ensure that all selected players are the right ones for the job at hand?
. Does South Africa have a proper football development programme?
. Do we have the right coaches for our national teams?
. Is the “cold war” between Safa and the PSL (which we are always told is the figment of the media’s fertile imagination) doing our football any good?
. Is the quality of our professional league good enough to provide the senior national team with quality players who are able to conquer their counterparts at international level?
If the answer to the first question is no, the follow-up question should be: What must be done about them or what would be the right thing for them to do?
Brutally honest and well-considered answers to these questions would be a good starting point, and lead to the drawing up and implementation of a plan that would see our football grow and produce positive results.
My observation over the more than three decades I have been covering football is that there is very little honesty within football.
Many people know what is wrong with the game, but there are just too many dishonest and greedy individuals who are there to serve their own interests and who have no interest in the game at all, except for what it can do for them.
Many are there to fulfil their personal ambitions, while others get into football just to make a quick buck.
We – as a nation – have become so used to short cuts that cutting corners has somehow become a South African way of life.
In all the mess that our football finds itself in, fingers point directly at the administrators, players, supporters and, to a lesser extent, the football media.
The main problem with the last lot is the number of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates supporters masquerading as journalists and experts. But that’s a subject for another day.
The administrators who are supposed to lead the game to the proverbial greener pasture spend too much time looking after their personal interests – when they are not at each other’s throats, that is.
There is no reason Safa and the PSL shouldn’t be singing from the same hymn book.
Our players are ill disciplined and show misplaced diva tendencies most of the time, without even achieving much.
Supporters treat the game with disdain by becoming couch potatoes and armchair critics who only fill the stadium when Chiefs and Pirates play. A case in point is the noise made by the public about the treatment of Banyana Banyana after they qualified for the World Cup. This did not match the number of people who go into the stadium for their international matches, even when Safa makes entry free.
Safa is still struggling to raise sponsorship for the league, which is scheduled to start next month.
Where are the big corporates that shouted from the rooftops on hearing what pittances the women’s national football team players were earning? Why are they not queueing outside Safa’s door to put their money where their mouths were then?
The state of our football is a national crisis that needs all stakeholders to come together and rescue the most popular sport so that it can grow to where it belongs.
There is no way football will stay our number one sport if the status quo persists.
. Follow me on Twitter @Sbu_Mseleku