Johannesburg - Only a national schools football committee can resolve the ongoing spat between the SA Football Association (Safa) and the SA Schools Football Association (Sasfa).
This furore will not serve the interests of pupils or stakeholders.
The current impasse between the two bodies has resulted in the fragmentation of schools football and the resultant destruction of the future of youngsters in the sport.
Suspended Sasfa secretary-general Steve Pila has embarked on a mission to establish an inclusive schools football structure.
Pila, who was part of the recently launched interim committee tasked with establishing a united schools football body, is confident that this structure will succeed in its mandate.
They have been given four months to bring together all stakeholders.
“It’s a tough ask, but we are confident we will pull it off. We have to do it for the benefit of the kids,” he said.
Pila, along with two Sasfa vice-presidents – Dickson Moleko and Innocent Sirovha – is part of the interim committee that aims to unify football splinter groups and establish an integrated schools football body.
Safa is represented by Mzimkhulu Fina, David “Brains” Zulu, Vincent Ramphago and Mazwi Mkhize.
Pila was quick to say they had not broken ranks with Sasfa.
“We believe the current situation of conflict is counter-productive and affects programmes of both Safa and Sasfa. It is not in the interest of football or the pupils.”
Pila hopes that, by the end of their lifespan, they would have met with all involved and the new structure would be ready to get off the ground.
“The new body will be semi-autonomous with 70% of active teachers on the committee. It will have its [own] account, constitution and policies, but will report to Safa.”
Next week, the committee will embark on a national roadshow to sell its vision to Safa structures, Sasfa, government, former Model C schools, teachers’ unions, students’ governing bodies and sponsors.
After 25 years in schools football, Pila said: “We must face reality and open our eyes because we are destroying the future of these kids. In fact, we are confusing them as one week they will attend a Sasfa Under-16 tournament, the next week a Safa school’s event for the same age group and then the other Safa Under-17 football tournament.”
He warned that Safa and Sasfa would lose sponsors because they could not fulfil their mandates.
“We struggle to put together 5 000 schools as per the contract, and Safa can’t do it either. What will happen when sponsors pull the plug? Our programmes will stop and kids will suffer. We need ... to work towards a common cause.”
Pila has denied allegations that he aligned himself with the new interim structure to run schools football because of his suspension from Sasfa.
He has been on suspension since April and is waiting for the disciplinary hearing to take place.
Sasfa president Mandla Mazibuko has refused to divulge the reason behind Pila’s suspension.