Minister Nxesi scolds Safa on resolving schools football saga
Sports Minister Thembelani “Thulas” Nxesi has asked for progress‚ and a report-back on it‚ from the South African Football Association on resolving their ongoing dispute with the SA Schools Football Association.
One of the less high-profile board-room battles‚ though perhaps also one of the most crucial‚ in SA football remains in limbo as Sasfa continue to be at loggerheads over Safa’s decision in March 2015 to dissolve the schools body as an associate member.
Safa‚ stating its unhappiness at how few schools play football‚ resolved to bring the running of soccer at that level under their own auspices.
That resolution was overturned in arbitration‚ which Safa took on appeal to the High Court and won on August 7.
Nxesi scolded Safa that since that verdict his department had not had official feedback on resolving the matter.
“Safa you present us with a dilemma. Your scores are above the pass mark of 50 percent. You are the most popular sport in the country‚” Nxesi‚ addressing a meeting of Safa’s national executive committee (NEC) at Safa House on Saturday morning‚ said.
“The professional sport is well resourced‚ the amateur clubs and local football associations are doing very well. And yet‚ the findings indicate that your presence in schools is wanting.”
Nxesi said that the representation of football in especially former white schools was “embarrassing”.
“Literally‚ some of the governing bodies are blocking soccer.
“There are schools where you find that there are seven or eight rugby fields‚ and not soccer‚ but there are a number of black kids there. We cannot accept that in the new South Africa.”
Nxesi said the decline in schools sport since the 1980s can be linked to the decline of SA football.
“My predecessor (Fikile Mbalula) issued a directive for Safa to take over control of Sasfa with a view to greatly expanding the presence of football in schools and aligning competition structures and age grades across the system‚” the minister said.
“I always argue one point – people like ‘KK’ Lentsoane and Jomo Sono were identified at high school.
“It can’t be that whatever association is organising soccer in schools only touches a few thousand schools‚ when we have 25 000 schools.
“As we know the issue ended in court with the court issuing an interim judgement calling upon the two bodies‚ Safa and Sasfa‚ to endeavour to find each other.
“My department has not been informed of any progress in implementing the judgement.
“I’m therefore directing that Safa should initiate a process of implementing that judgement forthwith.
“I don’t know how far you are. If third party mediation is required I think that my department or any other bodies remain available to provide assistance.”
Tellingly‚ Nxesi added: “I think that it is important that the two (Safa and Sasfa) find one another – it can’t be about personalities at the expense of the development of a nation.
“I’ve heard rumours that people are beginning to talk to each other but I haven’t seen anything in writing. I would greatly appreciate it if Safa would provide the department with a progress report in this respect.”
Safa president Danny Jordaan convincingly won that seat in a convincing election victory in September 2013 against Mandla “Shoes” Mazibuko‚ who is president of Sasfa.