Johannesburg - Many an African child has a story to tell about how they fell in love with the beautiful game.
My gambolling with the game of the pigskin started when, as a toddler, my father, the late Michael Dumezweni “Ace of Trouble” Mseleku – a dribbling wizard of note, I must add – took me to watch him play with a milk bottle in my mouth.
I was mesmerised by the skills on display.
I still have vivid memories of a ball floating down the muddy waters of an overflowing Umphambanyoni River into the Indian Ocean after a wayward defender hoofed it into touch, and over the spectators into the stream. That was the last we saw of that ball.
So a deep love of this form of art was born and cemented in my inner being.
Gave them monikers
Later on, I would be mesmerised by stories recounted to me about the heroics of players such as Steve “Kalamazoo” Mokone, Darius “The Singing Boxer” Dhlomo, Bhamuza “Scara” Sono and Petros “Senzeni” Zulu.
Then I began to read about them, and eventually graduated to watching the likes of Kaizer “Chincha Guluva” Motaung, Lucas “Masterpieces” Moripe, Patrick “Ace” Ntsoelengoe, Cedrick “Sugar Ray” Xulu and Henry “Black Cat” Cele.
From there, I would develop further into writing about Doctor “16-Valve” Khumalo, Teboho Moloi, Jerry “Legs of Thunder” Sikhosana, Helman “Midnight Express” Mkhalele, Linda “Mercedes-Benz” Buthelezi, Edward “MaGents” Motale, Mark Fish, Neil “Mokoko” Tovey and Lucas “Rho” Radebe.
I even gave some of them the monikers by which they are still known.
It was through this evolution that I developed a deeply intimate relationship with football.
So it breaks my heart whenever I see this sport – which has produced so many heroes and has taken us to the dizzy heights of delirium that it is called the opium of the masses – treated with disdain.
Not only the sport, but those who vow by it.
What the South African Football Association (Safa) has done with its search for Shakes Mashaba’s replacement leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
It has actually treated the nation with a great amount of disrespect.
Goalposts being shifted
For an organisation that is tasked with being the custodians of the game in this country, Safa has really botched its hunt for the senior national coach.
I mean, it knew long before finding a loophole to fire Mashaba when he went berserk and behaved like a bull in a China shop after the victory against Senegal that it wanted to get rid of him.
It should have started to search for a suitable coach as soon as it knew that it would get rid of Shakes.
But what has been happening is promise after promise that a new coach would be revealed on such and such a date, with the goalposts continuously being shifted.
So we still do not have a coach.
The current Safa leadership came into office on the ticket that they would turn it into a world-class organisation.
If they are intent on attaining that goal, they should start to behave like world-class leaders.
Yes, they have laid a solid foundation by ensuring that junior teams win and qualify for global events.
However, they must not forget that Bafana Bafana remain the jewel in Safa’s crown.
If you treat them with disdain, the entire thing becomes a house of cards that collapses.
So stop blaming everyone – the media included – and move at lightning speed to stabilise the situation.
We need a coach, pronto!
Follow me on Twitter @Sbu_Mseleku