S'Busiso Mseleku

20 years - of going downhill

2015-04-15 16:05
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

We are less than a year - nine months to be exact (a dull term of pregnancy) - to the 20th anniversary of Bafana Bafana's victory in the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.

Suffice it to say, since then, the fortunes of our soccer national team have dwindled dramatically.

DEVELOPMENT has become a swear word in South African football. Many have pointed to the lack of a proper development structure for our failure to produce world-beating players who in turn translate their skills to success at national level.

However, today, I am not going to bore you with the lack of player development or suggest what needs to be done as I think this has been done ad nauseum.

It is just up to the authorities to decide and implement proper developmental structures.

However, I want to address what has been bothering me for quite some time.

There is this group of players that is called "The Class of '96". These are the players who were in that team that won the coveted cup.

I am worried that despite their success which has set them apart as the best bunch due to their achievement, none of them has made inroads into the administration of the sport.

Some of them have become coaches while others have been roped in by different television channels and radio stations as analysts (others call them experts).

This seems to be the only avenues open to these former players. Given that they should have been in their 20's and 30's at that time, they are now in their late 40s and in their 50s by now. So why can't they break into the administration of the game they have served so loyally?

Could it be for a lack of interest from their side or are they being blocked by people who see soccer administration as their exclusive domain?

For years, there has been calls for some fresh blood in our soccer administration but the doors seem to be closed to them.

As we speak, former Portuguese, Real Madrid and Barcelona star, Luis Figo is gunning for the FIFA presidency. Former Zambian captain and star Kalusha Bwalya is today the president of the Football Association of Zambia.

Michel Platini who played for Juventus and represented France at the highest level even at the World Cup, is today the man at the helm of Uefa, one of the richest and most powerful football confederations in the world.

So if these individuals can make it into the higher echelons of football administration, why can't our local heroes make it into leadership positions.

As former players, are they not well-equipped to deal with issues affecting the current crop?

I am asking this question because to me being coaches and analysts means they remain employees just as they were during their playing days.

They have to dance to the whims of club owners and TV or radio owners who can fire them at the drop of a hat.

But if they were to become club owners, businessmen or serve in bodies such as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) executive committee or the South African Football Association (SAFA) National Executive Committee (NEC) they will become bosses and be able to determine or have a say in the direction South African football should take.

They can even contribute in changing the abnormality in SA football where bosses drive better cars than players where in Europe its vice versa.

This point was made by Jose Mourinho last week that players start making big bucks at the ages of 16, 17, 19 and 20. "When I got real money in my hands - real big money - it was my second contract with FC Porto in 2003. I was 30-something."

I would really like to hear from them should they read this column, what is the hold up.

I would also get your comments on what you think is blocking our  former greats, some of whom played in European leagues, from getting into football leadership positions.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    bafana  |  s’busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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