I was disgusted just the other week with the outburst from the South African Sports Minister in which he called the counternational team, Bafana Bafana, ‘a bunch of losers’.
In the wake of the 3-1 defeat by Nigeria the minister, Fikile Mbalula, called the performance by South African goalkeeper Mooneeb Josephs a disgrace and asked how he was going to explain it to his mother. It was such a lashing that Josephs had to get counselling afterwards. Really, was that really necessary?
For a start, if you have ever sat in a football dressing room after a defeat, you will know how much the players feel it. The higher the level of footballer, the more funereal the atmosphere usually is. The idea of players laughing off defeat, after a hot shower, doesn’t ring true. Few highly tuned athletes need to be told they have failed. It is them that feel the pain.
Secondly, who are we to scream from the touch line? In my mind it is a privilege to share the joy of a football match, that shouldn’t be abused. You should always ask yourself, how well you can trap a ball, head, or control a pass on the run. How well can you tackle and do you know where to stand at corners and set pieces? Think on, before you rant.
We can all score a hat-trick from the safety of a seat in the stands, every week. I played football for nearly 20 years and have watched it for probably twice as long – I am not one of those sad individuals who hurl abuse at those who play at a higher level that anyone in the crowd can dream of.
Last, but certainly no least, what was the minister thinking? Sure, there is something rotten in the state of the South African game. There has been a steady decline since the glory we all bathed in when South Africa was crowned African champions in 1996.
But who is to blame?
Don’t they say in Africa that a fish rots from the head down?
Surely, the state and the organisers of the game – who hold a budget with which to improve the game from the grassroots up – carry a large part of the blame. Where are the academies; where are the bursaries; where are the coaches where is the commitment needed to make South African football – what it once was – a beacon of excellence on the continent.
Ask Mr Mbalula.