The recent Sports Indaba, presided over by our energetic Minister of Sport, the Honourable Fikile Mbalula, was a watershed for the country’s sporting family. Not only did it bring together the country’s various sporting codes under one roof, but fostered a sense of unity among these codes. It was a veritable One-Stop-Shop.
The country’s best sporting minds gave their insight into the state of sport in the country and engaged in robust exchanges in typical South African no-holds-barred fashion but placed pragmatic solutions on the table for all to dissect.
Every important sporting stakeholder was there – representatives of every sporting federation, sponsors and fans and all had something to say about their favourite pastime.
One thing which really united the sporting family was the unanimous agreement that development was key to sustained success and if South Africa was to conquer the world, this was the route to take. No shortcuts.
Therefore, the issue of schools sport was debated at length. Different codes accepted that schools sport was the foundation for a competitive nation hungry for success. This is no different for our Rainbow Nation.
At SAFA, we have given the Minister’s initiative and vision our unqualified support and will now continue to take a critical look at our developmental efforts with a new drive and vigour given the critical feedback we received at this Indaba.
Our fundamental philosophy has always been development, development and more development. We maintain this as the cornerstone of our vision of building a country of champions; a country that will hold its own in years to come.
Since the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, an event that ushered us into a new world, our major goal has been to increase our influence in world football. However, we understand very well that without success on the field of play, our dream will not be realised.
Since 2010, we have attracted the world’s attention and we need to increase our influence not only within COSAFA and CAF, but also beyond the boundaries of this continent. SAFA has become a global brand in every sense and, while we face some challenges, no one will divert us from our bigger vision to develop the game at every level and contribute positively to the growth of football internationally. We have ensured that at least 11 South Africans serve on CAF committees. We have thrown our hat in the ring for the COSAFA Presidency, supporting our own Dr Danny Jordaan for this post. We have also been called upon by FIFA to serve it on several committees, ensuring our continued participation at the highest levels of world football.
Our junior national teams are performing well in international competition and, despite the major AFCON setback, which we have repeatedly acknowledged as unacceptable, we remain very much on track to achieve our developmental goals in the near to medium term.
As I said, we salute the Minister of Sport and Recreation for his boundless energy and have no doubt that his leadership will take us to the next level of sport achievement.
We realize that our continued growth can only come from playing against the best in the world, starting on the African continent. Our national teams have never played as many matches as they have in the past two years and we will continue to enter international competitions with the objective to qualify and win each one of them – we shall win some and we shall lose some. But, we will continue to grow in strength.
We have accepted the Minister’s challenge to us and will now ensure that our 11-point development framework is implemented to the letter with a single-minded focus. In this regard we call on corporate South Africa and government to partner with us on realizing these programmes. We have developed no less than 13 television properties to promote the game on television, plan to provide better coaching and referees development programmes to improve the standard of play and plan a closer partnership with the media to continue taking the game to the people.