South-Africa

Pressing Issues: ’Tis the season to be jolly – but for some, it’s miserable

2016-12-18 06:01
S'Busiso Mseleku.

Johannesburg - ’Tis indeed the season to be jolly and to be all that comes with the festive season. However, chances are that you will most likely bump into a few, if not many, uncharacteristically long faces.

You will not have to take many guesses as to who they support, though. Chances are they will be Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Springbok fans.

Amakhosi fans have endured a rather trying time since Steve Komphela took over the reins amid some fanfare on June 17 last year.

The club’s trophy cabinet, which is accustomed to welcoming a new piece of silverware at least once or twice every season, has not opened its doors to any shiny stuff in the 16 months that the scholarly coach has been at the helm.

Pirates fans have also not had much to cheer about this season.

Despite being beaten twice at the Fifa Club World Cup in Japan recently, the supporters of Mamelodi Sundowns will be among those who will almost feel satisfied.

Besides playing the best football in this country, Sundowns crowned that with two trophies this year.

And many would agree that the least said about the Springboks, the better.

While Allister Coetzee’s appointment was widely welcomed as a breath of fresh air by many, save for a small group for whom the person’s skin colour still means a great deal, he has managed to break all the unfavourable, or wrong, records.

The Springboks find themselves being strange bedfellows with Bafana Bafana, the senior men’s national football team.

Under Herman “Shakes” Mashaba, the football team has continued to misfire and cause a lot of misery for the nation.

The Proteas have been a revelation this year. They have mostly obliterated every opposition that has come their way. They have really lived up to their #ProteaFire modern war cry.

However, it still remains to be seen whether, come big global events, they will once and for all obliterate that terrible C-word, which we were banned from mentioning (or writing) in this newspaper.

The year definitely belonged to Wayde van Niekerk, who made South Africans push out their chests by breaking a long-standing world record at the Rio Olympic Games.

Caster Semenya was not very far behind as she won gold in the women’s 800m at the same event. There were a number of other athletes who did well this year as well.

So where is South African sport as we close the year?

I would say football and rugby have been the most disappointing. The two sports need to reinvent themselves, from top management downwards.

While Coetzee and Mashaba have been getting a lot of stick, the players have not really covered themselves in glory.

For both Springbok and Bafana players, it seems playing for the nation no longer carries the weight it used to when players were prepared to die with their boots on.

Even at Chiefs, where Komphela has come under severe derision, the players should not get away scot-free. Their performances have been below par.

South African football and rugby, from the administration right down to the players, need to pull up their socks.

Sundowns have led by example and they need to be emulated. It was quite refreshing to hear Pitso Mosimane say he wanted to continue building the club into a global brand.

That felt like a fresh sea breeze in a country where soccer bosses give coaches a mandate to “either avoid relegation or finish within the top eight”.

How ambitious is that?

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee held its elections recently and we hope that it will help to lead the sporting fraternity to greener pastures.

We also hope the new Premier Soccer League executive committee, even though it is made up of familiar and old faces, will inject some freshness into football leadership.

Here’s to hoping that, rather than the downcast feeling that most sporting codes brought the country, there will be more of a jovial mood next year.

I wish the entire sporting fraternity a merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous New Year.

Follow me on Twitter @SBu_Mseleku

Read more on:    pressing issues  |  soccer  |  cricket  |  rugby
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