Thursday, April 3, 2014

The beautiful game's sorry site

I travelled to Swaziland before hitting the highway to Botswana on a football fact-finding mission. The Swazis were very forth-coming and helpful and the Ba Tswana a little jittery and suspicious of my intentions. They kept their cards close to their chests as if I was there to steal their jobs.

The levels and standards of the game in each country is very low. The salaries are bad. Training grounds are grassless and very hard. For an idea, even the 3rd tier teams in South Africa and Zimbabwe have better training facilities. The school grounds of Mzansi are light-years ahead. I was really gutted.

In Swaziland, I met a long lost friend I first met a decade ago in Brazil. Boy Mkhonta is now Technical Director there, taking the reins from another Brazilian graduate, Sibandze. The man's passion has grown and he is doing a fantastic job and was extremely helpful.

I could not meet my other Brazilian classmate in Botswana. Ex-Zebras coach, Stanley Tshosane was too busy with personal affairs and all our appointments failed to materialise. He promised to make amends. There were also unsuccessful attempts to meet Rahman Gumbo and Madinda Ndlovu.

It was a privilege to have the time with Barry Daka and share some moments and catch up on our fruitful past together as coaches and administrators of the game. My feeling was that Mr Daka feels he did enough for football and that he was prepared to die on the pitch. The sad part is how the game treated him wherever he went.

Many people have raised concerns about the heroes of the game who made the people, city and country proud and yet they have nothing to show for it. There are many examples of players and coaches who only can show you scares that they received for the joy of their fans and nothing else. Few will have medals to prove their prowess then. Many struggle to have meals on the table for their families.

Could the blame be on the economy or their mismanagement of their own affairs? Is the environment not good enough to have the sportsmen and women live happily ever after? Can't the situation improve and who is responsible for the demise of the former heroes?