The legacy of the World Cup

2008-10-07 16:27

My "vision" of South African football over the 10 years following the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament is a very optimistic one. I have high hopes for the local game and for our international teams. Here are my 10 reasons why we have a lot to look forward to.

1. If you build it, they will come - A World Cup tournament is like a gold rush. There are players and officials all around the World that will be lured to South Africa by the promise of riches. A lot of them will be good, and a lot of the good ones will suddenly discover our wonderful country and stay. There are already Brazilian players and coaches in our local league - that can't be a bad thing for the future!

2. The next generation of players - The World Cup tournament will ensure that a whole new generation of players will grow up with the inspiration of having hosted the World's best players.

These youngsters ranged from 10 to 19 will have first hand experience of what is possible through top professional football, and they will grow up with stars in their eyes, and hopefully the drive and enthusiasm to be the best they can be.

3. The next generation of officials - The pressure of hosting the World's biggest sports tournament means that our officials will learn some new skills very quickly.

These skills will be transferred to the next generation of officials and so the running of our game improves. Better administration is essential for the future of local football.

4. Organisation - As our officials improve, so the organisation of the game improves. By organisation I mean future planning. We don't have a long term vision at the moment (is anyone planning for the 2012 Olympic games yet?), but our next generation of officials will be up to the task after exposure to global best practices.

5. Better facilities - Most SA footballers have grown up learning the game on hard, dusty township fields with limited facilities. The World Cup tournament has already seen a range of improved facilities from artificial grass pitches, training fields, indoor centres and better stadiums.

A better facility means better training methods, resulting in improved technique and better players. The more facilities, the more decent players we churn out.

6. Media exposure - The World's media won't just come and go. Once the tournament ends, there will be interest in what happens next in SA. More media exposure means more sponsorship, competitive salaries for players, better coaches and an improvement in the game. It's hard to hide when the World is watching.

7. Education - Schools across SA are getting involved in World Cup related activities. This interest will hopefully manifest into participation by the so-called 'big schools'.

The majority of Springbok rugby players come from very good schools. They get the best coaching and education - and that combination makes for a great sportsman. The big schools will start wanting to be the best at football.

Scholarships and bursaries will start being offered to good soccer players from all over the country. These schools will hire ex-pro players as coaches, and so school level football will improve, and the talent pool for our local PSL and national teams will increase. Bishops, King Edward, Hilton and Grey College will all be competing for the title of National Schools Soccer Champion.

8. Development - As the level at high school improves, so will the level at junior school. Coaching clinics and development programmes will be the order of the day.

Our next generation officials will have an integrated development programme, with scouts searching for talent across the country. Olympic development squads will be selected on merit, and our national junior teams will start winning tournaments.

These junior teams will feed into the national senior team and Bafana Bafana will move up the FIFA rankings to a respectable top 20 position!

9. Support - The World Cup tournament will get a whole lot of South Africans supporting Bafana, and there will be new interest in local football. More people will watch PSL games, the stadiums will be packed, the football will be more entertaining, players will rise to the challenge and a football match will be the place to be seen. The days of 2 000 people watching Bafana will be over!

10. Legacy - Football is the World's most popular sport. It is the most played and most watched sport in South Africa, but it hasn't always been the most looked after sport.

The World Cup tournament has elevated the value of the local game, it has increased interest and awareness, it will generate better facilities, better development programmes, competitive junior teams, and better players and give us a National team to be proud of. All of these elements will be a legacy of the World Cup tournament.

It starts with you. Make an effort to do your little bit. The World Cup tournament provides an opportunity I could never have dreamed of a few years ago. We have a lot to look forward to.

  • George Dearnaley is a regular columnist for Sport24.

    Send your comments to George.

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