S'Busiso Mseleku

SAFA leads xenophobia fight

2015-04-20 12:41
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

Several foreign nationals have played a major role in the development or enhancement of South African football.

These have come from different parts of the world including Europe, South America, Asia and our own continent, Africa.

So it came as no surprise when our football bodies, the South African Football Association (SAFA) who are custodians of football in this country and their affiliate, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) the professional wing, threw their weight behind the #SayNoToXenophobia campaign.

What has transpired in this country - the attack on foreign nationals - is diabolic and has brought shame to this beautiful country of ours.

Lest we forget, as mentioned at the beginning of this column, we have had a number of people from far away countries who have contributed immensely to the growth of football in this country.

This dates back to the 1800s when the game first came to this country via some British soldiers who started kicking the round pig-skin about, to the amusement of locals who were to later take to the game like ducks to water.

Since then, there has been a steady inflow of players, coaches and other practitioners of the game who have landed on these shores to depart their knowledge and skills.

Older Durbanites still sing praises of one Topper Brown who coached several KwaZulu-Natal clubs in the fifties and turned Durban Bush Bucks into an invincible side.

Others include the likes of Joe Frickleton, Eddie Lewis, Terry Paine (MBE), Clive Barker and Stanley Matthews who came from England as players and ended up settling in this country and eventually became great coaches.

From South America came the likes of Mario Tuani, Eddie Campodonico, Mario Varas (all from Chile), Augusto Palacios (Peru), Sergio Novoa (Argentina), Pio Noguiera (Brazil) and later his countryman Carlos Alberto Parreira who helped Bafana Bafana prepare and play in the 2010 Soccer World Cup hosted here.

The list of coaches and players from other parts of Africa who have graced this southern-most part of the continent is endless.

Who can forget how the pair of Zimbabweans (then known as Rhodesia) Ernest Khamba and George Shaya helped Moroka Swallows annihilate a then untouchable Kaizer Chiefs in a BP Top 8 two-legged final in the seventies.

Oh, how one burly Ebison "Sugar" Muguyo from the same country became the scourge of  goalkeepers such as Patson "Kamuzu" Banda of Orlando Pirates and Fredrick "The Cat" Mfeka of Amazulu in the late seventies.

The country was to later give Mzansi the Mugeyi twins, Wilfred and William whose achievements in this country are well documented.

South Africa has boasted coaches such as Zambian duo Ronald Mkhandawire (Orlando Pirates) and Wiseman Mbale (Kaizer Chiefs) and Zimbabwe's Sunday Chidzambwa, formerly Marimo (Black Leopards).

Even today, the PSL and the National First Division (NFD) is still populated by many practitioners of the beautiful game from several African states.

So who are these people who tell us that NO Thanks! We don't need these African brothers in our country anymore?

Their actions smack of such double standards because while they victimise these players and coaches' brothers and sisters on the streets,  they pay and cheer them on the field of play.

Let common sense prevail and we go back to living side by side like brothers that we are.

Thanks to the PSL for ordering Absa Premiership and NFD clubs to have a moment of silence before their matches this past weekend.

For SAFA and PSL as well as individual clubs to come out and make their voices heard about this scourge, was quite important and we hope the message filters down to the masses that follow football.

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:    safa  |  s’busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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