Kirsten Nematandani, like most people in similar circumstances, rode in to the SAFA top post on a wave of promises and enthusiasm when he was elected president of the football association, in a voting saga more intriguing than his unopposed victory suggests.
To those uninitiated to the politics of the local game, that is.
In Nematandani’s “volley of oaths” was a particular emphasis on the development of young soccer players throughout the country’s nine provinces, saying that the country’s football future lay in the youth structures, whose importance has long been lamented by football experts and the media.
“You need to invest at grassroots level in order to produce a talented pool of players”, Nematandani said at the time.
That was back in 2009 shortly after the former head of referees was elected to the highest and lucrative seat in South African football, less than a year before the country hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Yesterday, nearly four years on, Nematandani again took to the national podium to speak about youth development, this time to inform the public that SAFA would launch the organisation’s Technical Master Plan.
He announced the launch of under-13 and under-15 boys’ and girls’ league, where a 1000 boys and 1000 girls will showcase their talents and be scouted by national selectors for a chance to join a central academy that will further develop their talents, according to a report by Kick-Off magazine.
The much-anticipated plan, in short, details how SAFA will use the hundreds of millions generated by the World Cup and held until now in a FIFA Legacy trust, to invest in “grassroots” development of players and coaches via a league in SAFA’s 311 branches across the country.
The objective is clear enough: to turn Bafana, Banyana Banyana, and all the junior national teams, into formidable sides that reflect and justify South Africa’s abundant resources and widely vaunted passion for the game.
That it took a full four years to finally unveil the grand plan for the revenue of a tournament we knew we would be hosting at least five years in advance which puts the total time to almost a decade is not the main issue.
To be sure, the prolonged time it took to reveal the plan is Lilliputian compared to revelations by a recent Fifa investigation that implicates members of the very same SAFA executive Nematandani captains, in fixing at least two international games before the World Cup.
Calls by everyone from sports minister Fikile Mbalula to worried fans of the beautiful game for an independent enquiry into the controversy have fallen on deaf ears and a din of lip-service.
The figures involved in the suspected fixing are between four and ten million rand. R450 million has been made available by Fifa through the trust for development academies for the development of football in the country.
Recently, SAFA has also been reported to be close to bankruptcy.
It will be interesting to see if Nematandani and SAFA will be able to pull off the juggling act, of achieving its youth development goals, managing the huge World Cup windfall, while trying to pull itself out of a financial hole.
MEET THE TEAM: Andre Arendse (left) and Clive Barker (right) pose with a fan at the Bidvest Wits meet and greet hosted on East Campus, Wits University. Pic: Pheladi Sethusa
Bidvest Wits is facing a goal keeping crisis after the last of their experienced goalkeepers became another victim to injury during a match on Saturday.
Emile Baron suffered a broken leg and had to be stretchered off after a clash with Orlando Pirates striker, Ndumiso Mabena in the dying moments of their defeat at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday. This forced Wits to put, inexperienced 17-year-old Jethren Barr, into the poles as the last man standing.
Wits’ misfortune in the goal keeping department began when Ryan Harrison fractured two fingers earlier this month ruling him out of play. The day before Wits was due to play Platinum Stars (April 17) Jackson Mabokgwane broke his leg during training. Their bad luck continued when Steven Hoffman also broke his leg during practice last week.
The goal keeping crisis facing Wits has led their current goalkeeping coach, former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, 45-year-old Andre Arendse to look into registering with the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
This will put him on the bench to assist Barr should the need arise. However, it is unlikely that his registration will be complete in time for their next match against the University of Pretoria on Wednesday night.
Although the club is in the middle of a crisis, Wits’ coach Clive Barker remains optimistic. He felt bad for Barr having to make his debut under such circumstances and with negative results but said, “…these things happen…”
“…Cometh the hour cometh the man. We’re fighting for fourth spot and we owe it to those keepers who have broken their bones,” Said Barker.
Bidvest Wits will face off against the University of Pretoria, for a fourth spot, on Wednesday at Tuks stadium at 7.30pm
Wits Vuvuzela April 26: Clever boys eager for fourth place finish
Wits Vuvuzela April 5: Barker brings change
Kickoff. com April 29: Arendse lauds brave Barr
Goal. com April 29: Andre Arendse set to make his return to top-flight football against Tuks
Seadimo Tlale, One Day Leader number 2, dominating at debating.
Seadimo Tlale is the last Witsie standing in SABC’s One Day Leader contest.
The show that aims to find future leaders of the country will soon be coming to an end. With only 3 contestants left, the pressure is on for Tlale to represent Wits, as well as being the last female in the competition.
When asked what got her this far in the competition, Tlale said: “People like the way I reason and stand by what I believe in regardless of what anybody says.”
Known for her skills in debating, Tlale can proudly say that she has won the most debates this season, despite the fact that she is the youngest contestant to ever make it this far.
“The quality that made me stand out the most was that people were amazed about how age is not a factor for me. I go out and achieve what I set to do,” said Tlale.
The finale airs on Mothers Day, Sunday May 12, where the decision will be made on who will be South Africa’s One Day Leader 2013.
With faith and assurance, Tlale is ready to go all the way. She said: “I have overcome great obstacles by challenging very strong opponents with confidence.”
To support your fellow Witsie SMS “Leader 2” to 34068.
Witsies showcasing their graffiti skills on the Library Lawns.
Photo: Caro Malherbe
Sprite has launched a nationwide talent search for the best emcees, dancers and graffiti artists in the country, and this week they’re at Wits main campus.
Sprite is looking for skilled dancers and emcees or “b-boys” who have a love for hip hop.
The winners of the Sprite Uncontainable Talent Search in each category will win a trip to New Orleans with Talib Kweli, the American rap master.
Jody Elliot, one of the ladies handling entries, said: “Anyone can come to the Sprite truck on the Library Lawns and show their talent to the judges in a private booth. Dance groups have a dance floor that they can use and there are also boards put up where people can show their graffiti skills.”
The search will be at Wits for the remainder of the week from 9am to 5pm. There will also be free Sprite given away during lunch hour.
Sprite’s tagline for the competition is: “Show us what you got and represent your hood.” Wits is sure to have some talented representatives.