SAFA need introspection and a refined blueprint for the youth set-up

Does SAFA have the blueprint at youth level to improve chances of success at senior level?

Does SAFA have the blueprint at youth level to improve chances of success at senior level?

A mission statement defines what an organization is, why it exists, its reason for being. One cannot but force a wry smile when one looks at the mission statement of the South African Football Association (SAFA). Part of SAFA’s mission statement, according to their official website www.safa.net, is “creating an image of being a stable, progressive and innovative institution” and “contributing to Africa’s ascendancy in world football through the hosting of major events in Africa, while aspiring and striving to become a leading football playing nation.”

SAFA has successfully failed to live up to their mission statement and one wonders what’s then if not their mission statement guides them. You may be wondering why I am on about SAFA. Last weekend saw Egypt crowned African Under-20 champions for the fourth time after they beat Ghana 5-4 on penalties. In the process Egypt alongside losing finalists Ghana and semi-finalists Nigeria and Mali will represent Africa at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey from 21 June to 13 July.

Nigeria has been African Youth champions a record 6 times, Egypt 4 times with Ghana claiming it on 3 occasions. Amajita, as our Under 20 football squad is affectionately known, have only been at these games on four occasions in the championships’ 34 year history – once in 1997 when Amajita, then led by the goal hungry Benny McCarthy who was then voted player of the tournament and top goal scorer, lost one-nil to hosts Morocco and later in Rwanda 2009 when they claimed fourth place.

That was probably the last time SAFA ceased to have leadership with imagination, insight and boldness – leaders who are agents of change, who see the bigger picture and think strategically – the same SAFA whose mission statement that seems to be in direct conflict with events of the past years.

What has happened to the array of stars that have graced out junior teams when they were at the height of success? Does SAFA have a plan to ensure development is not some cliché but a fundamental element of success for our senior national team? The 2011 edition of the Youth Championships held here in South Africa saw goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, Doctor Mampuru and Lyle Lakay strut their stuff but as things stand it’s only Williams who has received a call up as part of a grooming process. What has happened to all the youngsters who are naturally supposed to one day graduate to the senior national team? Do we have right people leading our football? The next African Youth Championships is scheduled for Senegal 2015 – does SAFA have a plan?

As regions prepare to elect delegates ahead of the September 2013 SAFA elective Annual General Meeting, they need to ask themselves whether there has been any tangible transformation of our football as envisaged by the Football Transformation Forum which ushered in a new leadership in Kempton Park I 2009. Back then, after he was installed as the new boss of SAFA, Kirsten Nematandani said the new leadership was focusing on fulfilling its mandate to develop football and to ensure that South Africa delivers a successful World Cup in 2010. The latter was delivered successfully but that’s all there is to write home about. Our football need a serious and concerted revolution and rid it of hangers on whose involvement if anything is detrimental.

This article was written by Boswell ‘BK’ Matewe, his first for SFG. Boswell is a sports broadcaster and is the anchor of Capricorn FM’s sports show. You can follow him on twitter @bkmatewe.

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