Soccer indaba to discuss poor showing of national teams

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says his department will host a national indaba over the current financial year to look at the state of football. 

Mthethwa on Wednesday briefed media after leading a debate on the department’s budget vote at the Imbizo Media Centre in Parliament. 

While Bafana Bafana was knocked out of the Total Africa Cup of Nations by the Super Eagles in the quarterfinals, the under-20 national football team, Amajita, were eliminated from the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, while Banyana Banyana also failed to proceed to the second round in their maiden year of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

“I have observed that our approach to football – not only football but sport generally – is our pre-occupation with the next tournament. That mindset should change. What are the actual causes of the not so good performance, particularly in football?” Mthethwa said. 

He said there appears to be some “disconnect somewhere”, which may be systemic in nature, adding that each time the national soccer teams dropped the ball, there was a rush to blame the coach. 

“Maybe the coach is the problem, but there is some systemic problem,” he said. 

In his speech to Parliament on Tuesday, Mthethwa said the indaba was aimed at addressing several key issues that may be blocking the national teams from landing shots on target. It will look at key questions such as: what is holding back the growth of football in the country; the role that various stakeholders should play; and how best government can support the development of football at grassroots level and at professional level to not only conquer Africa, but the world as well. 

Accompanied by former Orlando Pirates defender Siyabonga Sangweni at the media briefing, among other guests, Mthethwa commended his contribution to grassroots sports with his annual Siyabonga Sangweni Games. 

Leading the debate in the House, Mthethwa said pursuant to the quest for sport development, the department would continue to invest in the School Sport Programme. 

“We believe that this programme is the bedrock of our entire development continuum. [Forty percent] of the grant to provinces has been ring-fenced to deliver on this programme. 

“The funds are intended to support the training of teachers as coaches, delivery of teams to tournaments, provision of sport equipment and attire to quintile one and two public schools.” 

Debut fund increased to R10 million 

Mthethwa said, meanwhile, that the Debut Fund, which is meant to support youth in arts and culture (which was started as a pilot project in 2017), has been increased from R1 million to R10 million. 

“The department, in partnership with Business and Arts South Africa and the National Lottery Council, provide knowledge and development skills to emerging artists on the cusp of ‘making it’ to support them with launching or implementing their first album, film, book etc. 

“It allows them opportunity to pitch for funding to further support their venture. The demand for this funding facility and youth enthusiasm has seen the department increasing it from R1 million to R10 million going forward,” he said. –