A lot of the discourse, on forums and a social media,
about South African football is packed with mindless vitriol and intellectually
barren generalisations. Rarely are any worthy points made amid the name-calling
and childish baiting.
Rare too is a debate with a wide ranging command of
comment from across a wide spectrum of the game’s personalities, so it has been
refreshing to follow the passion and vigour with which the performance of
Masibusane Zongo last Saturday has been analysed.
It started, straight after the game, with opposing coach
Pitso Mosimane disputing the awarding of the man of the match award to the
Platinum Stars winger.
Mosimane, despite all that he has been accused of since,
did not criticise the showboating of the player but, rather, made the point
that his antics, while thrilling most of the crowd and TV viewers, made little
impact on the game and therefore did not qualify him to be called the best
player of the game.
The flashy passes and switchbacks of the
controversy-dogged Zongo have polarised some heavyweight opinion.
Doctor Khumalo, who was something of a show boater
himself in his playing day, seems to think it all is now a fairly pointless
“Times have changed,” he told reporters this week, “there
is a danger we won’t develop intelligent players”.
Others like Jomo Sono loved it. I was there on Monday
night when he talked about his own time “standing on the ball, not only here in
South Africa but when I played in New York”. He was all for Zongo being given a
free license to perform his tricks and enthral crowds.
Columnists have also waded in on both sides of the
argument, some with astute observations. Rodney Reiners, a former professional,
wrote a brilliant piece on the issue in the Cape newspapers.
The merits, or demerits, of show boating, and its place,
in the local footballing psyche has produced a healthy argument that deals with
questions of culture and history, of perception, and offers ideas about how to
play the game.
Intellectual debate about something people hold dear is
vital for the development of the game and can only be considered a positive -
never mid which side of the argument you stand on.
Hopefully it will take over from the idiocy, malice and
derogatory exchanges that dominate these. Football fans must feel free to
contribute their voice but do so with the good of the game in mind and seek to
offer solutions rather than just sling stinky mud. That’s best left to kids in
Mark Gleeson is a world-renowned soccer commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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.