It gives me great pleasure to address this important event and shed light on the past twenty years of football development excellence at South African schools.
Please allow me to go back in history and start at a time when a clarion call was made in 1988 by the then banned ANC to the sports people of South Africa to start the process of disrespecting the laws of apartheid that prohibited the coming together of South Africans in the various fields of social life.
The melting pot that gave rise to the meaning of this was the boycott of the UK’s Mike Gating Tour of South Africa. The walls of the establishment were shaken. The real test was the formation of the SA Schools Sports Congress, the school sports arm of the NOSC.
It was formed on the 1 February 1990 in Cape Town and the first non racial athletics event took place in Bisho the same year.
The formation of a single multi coded, non racial school sports gained momentum when the National Olympic & Sport Congress was formed to take a lead in driving the agenda of Unity, Preparation & Participation and the IOC and other world governing bodies lifted the sports and cultural boycott of South Africa
The year was 1992 when unity talks in each code started and football was no exception.
As you know we come from a fragmented society that meant more than 17 bodies of sport divided along provincial, racial, political lines where whites had House of Assembly, Bantustan territories, self governing territories of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, Ciskei states & DET schools.
The No Sport in an Abnormal Society campaign had to be abandoned when South Africa was re-admitted to the International Community of Sport. Yes there were people that were punting the No Vote No International Participation. However, the forces of progress won the day since it was their conviction that sport can be used as an effective tool for Nation Building, reconciliation and forging unity in the country. It all began from this point.
Unity talks in School Sports gave birth to the formation of the United School Sport Association of South Africa with 25 Sporting codes.
The founding fathers of organised multi coded non racial School Sport in the Republic of South Africa are Messrs Greg Fredericks and Doctor Nkosi. I have worked hand in glove with them to bring transformation, unity, corporate appeal on behalf of grass roots sport.
The first schools football sponsorship was the KFC Cup followed by the Chappies Little League. This was followed by the Winter Games, a selected side tournament guaranteeing selection of boys and girls teams in the Southern Africa’s Ball Games under the aegis of COSSASA.
The KFC Cup first took players such as Thabo Mooki and Brian Baloyi under the tutelage of Trott Moloto to the Students Youth Cup in the USA way back in 1992, and this was followed by participation in the Schools World Cup under the aegis of the International Schools Sport Federation since 1997 to date.
The Super 8 concept of the United School Sport Association of South Africa [USSASA] where big codes cross subsidized smaller codes were the first major roll out in the organised multi coded schools sport. The Premier Sponsors of this initiative were Bull Brand, Eskom’s Electrowise and ABSA.
With the positive image of Schools Football, came in companies that made a huge impact and difference in sustaining the streams of football development. Here we salute and speak of the following:
- Spur Masidlale
- Chappies Little League
- MTN Cup
- Mille u/14 cup
- Copa Coca – Cola Football Stars and later Copa Coca – Cola
- Vodacom Schools League
- Danone Nations Cup
- Nestle Milo Champs
- McDonalds under 14 Schools League
- Metropolitan SASFA U/16 Cup
- Kay Motsepe Cup and later the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup
These flagship programmes were carried over from USSASA Football to the SA Schools Football Association in 2006 after the closure of USSASA following the directive of the Ministerial Task Team that handled the transformation of sport in the country and spearheaded the inclusion and formation of macro bodies.
Part of the directive was that All National Federations must take responsibility of the school codes since the country recognises Federations as custodians of the particular code.
It is for that reason that SASFA is housed at the SAFA House.
Milestones that we have achieved over the years are as follows:
• In 2003 we were awarded the Guinness Book of World Records for registering the highest number of entries in a single national event. 6023 teams, 120 460 participants
• Managed to ensure that learners participate in International Events such the COSSASA Ball Games, Schools World Cup under the aegis of ISF, Milo Africa Champs as well as the annual Danone Nations Cup International.
• Elevated officials to serve as Administrators, Referees, serve in leadership of the National Federation at various levels.
• Profile of schools were uplifted with the creation of two awards dedicated to schools in the SA Sports Awards and we are glad that for 2013 the Sol Plaatje School won the school category whilst Daniye Primary from the rural Bushbuckridge took honors of the Most Improving Schools category.
• We are proud to mention that a boy selected to attend the Copa Coca – Cola camp last year. Walter Kubheka was drafted into the National Under 17 team that has just returned from a tour of Namibia.
• A toast goes to Thabo Moloi who featured last year in the finals of the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Cup in Durban for Rosina Sedibane who now adorns the jersey of Super Sport. Our gallery of the galaxy of players in the PSL, NFD and all National Teams needs at least 15 pages to fill.
One milestone amongst the many others that stands out is a South African schools team that performed in miracle like fashion and earned the second highest honours at a football world cup. The Transnet School of Excellence won silver at the 20th World Schools Championships that were staged in Santiago, Chile, in April 2007.
The School of Excellence coach and former Mamelodi Sundowns defender Dan "Dance" Malesela was full of praise for the youngsters, who also collected the Fair Play Award for their conduct on and off the field.
However, their biggest scalp was beating Brazil 3-0 in the semifinal of the 24-team tournament. Besides Brazil, the South Africans beat Iran 1-0, the hosts 2-1 and thrashed Luxembourg 5-1 in the group-stage games. In the quarterfinal they picked up where they left off against Luxembourg and hammered Belgium 5-1.
"We then lost to Slovenia and this was a wake-up call. They too were physically intimidating. Chile was a tough match but we held on for a good win and beating Luxembourg and Belgium was quite easy. Against Germany though we just could not finish off the chances we created, it was not meant to be," he said.
The School of Excellence captain Lindeleni Mudau agreed with his coach. "It was a tough competition and I'm happy that we made it to the final, we never thought we would, considering the size of the players. But they were not as fast as us on the ball, and because we are much smaller and faster we played a quick passing game and it worked for us."
Striker Christo Badenhorst bagged eight goals at the competition, finishing as the team's highest scorer. "I enjoyed myself very much," the Kimberley-born player said. "It's a pity we could not score in the final. I think we were a bit better than Germany, but still I'm happy that we won something."
I am pleased to say that this inspiration was carried over into the South African Schools World Cup Competition that was hosted in the run-up to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. For the first time in the history of the world’s biggest sporting showpiece, this event was built on three key pillars, namely
• Participation in the actual football tournament,
• Education through arts and culture activities and
• Knowledge development activities.
The wining schools representing the provinces also adopted the identities of the 2009 Confederations Cup participating countries, their national emblems and cultures for the duration of the competition. The finals of the 2009 Schools’ Confederations’ Cup were held on the 14th - 16th of May 2009.
The second phase of the participation pillar mirrored the format of the actual World Cup. During this phase, 16 schools from the rest of Africa were invited to be part of the final 32 schools participating. As with the Confederations Cup, the participating schools assumed the identities of the qualifying 32 countries. 7957 Schools from 81 districts across the 9 provinces registered for the competition since the project was launched.
With your help, we can carry the 2010 Legacy forward into the next generation and ensure that schools sport and football in particular becomes an invaluable tool for nation-building and equipping our children with the life skills that are so important for a successful career, be it in sports or any other field.
It is fitting that we are holding this event at the very venue of the opening and closing of 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.
Interestingly, many years ago, a country on the other side of the equator faced similar challenges to the ones the new South Africa faced twenty years ago – and is now earning the rewards from their very own world cup legacy.
The 1982 FIFA World Cup turned out a massive opportunity for Spain to show the world what a vibrant and progressive nation had emerged from nearly half a century of ruthless dictatorship. The success of that event, both in the staging and the participation, energised moribund Spanish sport, and inspired a generation of Spanish children to see the possibilities of a sporting career. Its more tangible legacy was an infrastructure of excellent sporting facilities and a nation-wide devotion to grassroots development.
In sports, infrastructure investment can take a long time to bear its first fruits. In the case of Spain, it took more than twenty years to propel Spanish athletes to the top of the sporting world. Recently, an eight-page spread in Spain's best-selling sports daily, La Marca, posed the question "Why are we so good?", announcing "the golden age of Spanish sport".
Ladies and Gentlemen, twenty years from the first World Cup hosted on African soil, will we be able to look back and announce the “Golden Age of South African Sport”? When we usher in the year 2030, will our children reap the fruits that we have sown so many years ago and will they be able to replicate the global successes that the Spanish athletes and teams are reaping now?
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.”