Race, Class and SA Football

By | August 6th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Thabo Dladla (right) and Styles at Izichwe (Photo by Gemma Mcdonald)

‘Talking Football’ by Thabo Dladla  (Echo, 5 August 2010)

The euphoria and excitement that grew around football during the recent World Cup are not likely to boost the beautiful game in South Africa. If our attitudes do not change towards this predominantly black sport, it will remain a stepchild of South African sport for many years to come.

Rugby and cricket will continue to receive support from businesses and decision makers.  The black elites’ children attend private and formerly white high schools which promote rugby and cricket . . . [codes] which enjoy the best sporting facilities, all the way up to university level. The few facilities available to football are either poorly maintained or not maintained at all.

The system continues to support the rich and politically powerful. there are many black faces leading institutions such as schools, universities, municipalities and government departments, and yet football continues to struggle.

At university level rugby enjoys huge sponsorship and coverage on television while football [does] not despite the huge number of students who play the game . . . The young men and women in this age group should be competing in U20 and U23 competitions. The Izichwe Youth programme based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal strives to address some of the challenges faced by the needy youth.[The program receives support from Ilawu B.B., National Lottery, Metropolitan, Adidas and Viking Stavanger FC in Norway.]

The rich and powerful call for more police and prisons. Yet the country requires youth programmes to empower our youngsters socially, economically and academically, to shape their future. I would like to see a change in attitude from those who make decisions in government and business.

It is not only the rugby-playing children from middle class families who have dreams. Patriotism is not only about carrying flags and singing national anthems, it is more about caring and supporting your fellow citizens.

[Click to listen to podcast with Thabo Dladla and fellow coaches.]

After the World Cup: Football Again!

By | July 18th, 2010 | 5 Comments

The 2010 World Cup in Disney-like FIFAland ended only seven days ago and since then South African columnists and cartoonists, corporate managers and car guards, compulsive fans and casuals alike have been vexed by the same post-World Cup question: what do we do now?

The immediate answer was stunningly simple. Back to the pitch! For me, that means training with the four dozen youngsters and the committed coaches of the Izichwe Youth Football program here in Pietermaritzburg. On Saturday, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Peter Booysens sports ground, the teenagers played against the Durban (eThekwini) under-15 representative side due to compete in the ‘One Nation’ tournament in Bremen, Germany, in a few months.

Even though the visitors from the big city won, it was a glorious day for pure football. The illuminating pass, the righteous tackle, the crisp give-and-go, and the delicate chip shot over the keeper and into the back of the net. There will be time for improving team tactics and defensive organization. For now, let’s keep playing, learning, and giving Bafana Bafana hope for the future.

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