Johannesburg - Is this the beginning of the end for the South African Schools Football Association (Sasfa)?
Friday’s media conference at South African Football Association (Safa) headquarters clearly pointed to that being the case as no less than five top officials have aligned themselves with Sasfa.
Sasfa and Safa have been at loggerheads over the running of schools football for the past three years, with the mother body taking the decision to withdraw recognition of the former in 2015.
The matter between the two organisations is before the courts and is scheduled to be heard next month.
Led by suspended Sasfa general secretary Steve Pila and vice-president Innocent Sirovha, a group of officials has come together with Safa to form a united schools sport structure.
Other members of Sasfa’s leadership on the new committee are Dickson Moleko, Smangaliso Mgenge and Vincent Ramphao.
Sasfa president Mandla “Shoes” Mazibuko was conspicuous by his absence, signalling division within Sasfa.
Pila did not mince his words, saying they were going forward with a united schools body.
He said it was about time all warring factions came together for the benefit of school children.
“It is either you are with us or you are out,” said Pila. “We are going on a national drive to all the provinces and, after four months or so, we will come back with recommendations to Safa. Those who don’t want to be part of this should either be disciplined or locked out because this is long overdue.”
He said schools football should take its rightful place in the country.
“We need to galvanise everyone and get the more than 20 000 schools involved. We will approach the former Model C schools so they form part of this unit.”
Later in the day, Sasfa sent a media statement distancing itself from the new structure.
“We have been following with keen interest the various messages from the president of Safa, Dr Danny Jordaan, on the so-called strides made to come to this decision. For the record, Sasfa has never been invited to talks nor sent any delegation to negotiate with Safa, where this announcement emanated from the so-called unified interim structure,” said Mazibuko.
Jordaan said their aim was to see about 5.3 million children involved in football within five years.