Fellow colleagues from the NEC, Honourable President of SAFA, Dr Danny Jordan and SAFA NEC members present, our valued accredited delegates from Provinces, Representatives from our esteemed sponsors and our partners, Government officials present, staff members from both SASFA and SAFA, Members of the Media, Observers and distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, all protocol observed. I extend a warm welcome to all of you
As the final whistle was blown at the Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro this past Sunday and the new World Champions, ”The Mean Machine”—Germany, were crowned, it has become clear that a new era has broken in the world of football and we have to take note and carefully analyse what has changed and how the new rules of success are shaping the beautiful game worldwide.
But before we delve into the world’s most beloved game, it is time to pay homage to the father of our nation, Tata Madiba, whose first post mortem birthday we have witnessed yesterday. It was Madiba who kept impressing upon us the importance of leveraging sport as a tool for nation building.
Madiba said on more than one occasion that
“Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
Most recently, we have witnessed many occasions of sport bringing people together. The 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil has indeed united many nations behind their passion for the beautiful game and brought back many dear memories from the 2010 World Cup held on our shores.
At the same time, it has reminded us that teamwork is the single most important ingredient to success, and the German team owes much of their progress to their spirit of teamwork. The renowned Daily Mail columnist, Max Hastings, summed up their formula for success when he listed the success factors last week: “no ludicrously ecstatic celebrations when its players score, even time and again in a World Cup semi-final; no visible tattoos; a supreme understanding of what teamwork means, rather than rampant egotism.”
As of end of the month, it will also be a new era for Bafana Bafana, when the new coach will take over the reins and start building the campaign for AFCON 2015 and 2017 and most importantly for the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Germany has shown that grassroots football development can bear huge fruits over a period of time. In their case, it took exactly ten years, from the very low point of German football – the early exit at the 2004 Euro in Portugal – to the perfection of the national team under Coach Jogi Loew who has been moulding this very team of youngster ever since he signed on ten years ago.
It is therefore vitally important that we continue to support and invest in the development of grassroots and in particular schools football, and I am pleased to say that almost all corporate sponsors have renewed their support in the previous financial year, most notably the DANONE u12, Nestle U13, Mc Donald’s U14, Copa Coca Cola U15, and Sanlam K Motsepe U 19.
Just one month ago, we celebrated the youth of this country and we need to keep reminding ourselves that we are in the fortunate position of having a large pool of young talent and a young generation of new players, compared to the old age homes of Europe (and interestingly enough, Germany in particular where almost one third of the population is reaching pensioners’ age).
It gives me great pleasure to reflect and share with you challenges and successes of the year under review. I am very proud to be among the collective leadership of football that strives to maintain fundamental aims and objective of the sport, to promote, advance, administer, co-ordinate and generally to encourage the game of football within all schools in South Africa in accordance with the principles as laid down in the statutes of SAFA and FIFA.
Professionalism, accountability, hard work, and determination are some of the hallmarks of a Successful Team where “TRUST AND INTERGRITY” are the order of the game. Your tireless efforts to serve a child is highly appreciated, you are the unsung heroes and heroines of football development. It is not a coincidence that almost all of our sponsors are still with us and others have renewed their commitment.
Congratulations to all our sponsors who have renewed their vows for a new three year-deal cycle with us and we welcome the new partners and sponsors who will be unveiled in due course. We applaud you and express our heartfelt gratitude for the vote of confidence in our leadership. On behalf of the children of this Country we salute you for helping in the culture of teaching and learning and Nation Building. Notwithstanding the hard work the team puts up, there is nonetheless some challenges that need to be attended to.
New challenges for the incoming executive’s transformation agenda are
• talent identification,
• player development,
• coaching and referee and general football development,
• racial integration and social cohesion,
• fostering good working relationships with club development initiatives of provincial departments of sports and SAFA LFA’s, football academics and PSL clubs
In addressing our challenges going forward, let us take inspiration from the lessons learnt from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The importance of hosting what has now been rated the most successful World Cup ever, cannot be overestimated – and has inspired millions of children across the continent to reach out for their dreams.
The 2010 spectacle brought Africa to an equal footing with the rest of the world and showed the outside world that this continent was ready to claim its stake within the global market. This once in a lifetime experience heralded Africa’s regeneration agenda in the social, economic and sporting sphere. Former President Thabo Mbeki called the hosting of the showpiece a New Beginning for Africa and its millions of inhabitants.
During the run-up to the tournament itself, never has this country exhibited such unity. With its diverse cultural background, people from all walks of life showed sport and in particular football was a truly uniting force.
Unity is the hallmark of any winning team and my humble plea to all our members is promotion of UNITY, as the state of being in accord, in harmony, undivided in order for us to achieve “A state of unity.” The following prerequisites must be addressed, established, implemented and sustained. We must maintain the following attributes; TRUST, LOYALTY, ACCORD/AGREEMENT,TRANSPARENCY, starting with the Highest Echelon of management, the President , Vice Presidents, National Executive Committee members, General membership and Staff members.
SASFA as the biggest Associate member of SAFA is pledging unconditional support to all football development initiatives in particular the Technical Master Plan whose implementation is long overdue. To this effect SASFA is making available a minimum of 1000 Educators annually both males and females to our mother body, SAFA, to train as Administrators, Coaches, Referees and Talent Scouts to address the imbalance and shortage of football expertise. This capacity building will dovetail in all spheres of football structures including Regions, LFA’s, Academies, Club Development and Mass Participation. Surely the FIFA Legacy Funding will come in handy for this mammoth task. Let’s hold hands and join forces to plant solid building blocks and foundation for successful National Teams without exception. YES Together We Can.
In conclusion, I would like to quote the father of our nation, Madiba, who himself was a great lover of the beautiful game and who issued a call to action to all of us that has never rung more true than today.
At the unveiling ceremony for his lifelong friend and mentor, Walter Sisulu, in December 2003, Madiba said: “Let us commit towards our common Goal, a Nation where all of us are Winners. Let us build a Nation of Champions! Let us build a Nation that Walter Sisulu can be proud of. When I see him in the next Life, I need to take good News to him.”
I wish Congress fruitful engagement and productive deliberations.
As Julius Caesar used to say when he called his troops to arms,
FORTES FORTUNA IUVAT
“Fortune favours the Brave”
Let us be brave and step boldly into the new Era of the Beautiful Game!