Pretoria. According to sources close to the South African Football Association (SAFA) there are plans to stop journeys to Europa to play soccermatches. At the moment the discussion still rages on, but a decision is to be expected very soon.
From what we have heard the main reason for an end to these journeys is the attitude of European soccer crowds during matches of the national team. “People in the crowd are clapping their hands and waving their arms. They want us to do the same, but we are not dancing monkeys.” Another player added: “When the crowds shout Bafana Bafana, it sounds to me like Banana Banana. I do not even like bananas.”
As one official, who does not want to be named, said: “We are seen as anthropological subjects, not as football talents. The spectators have come to the stadium to watch us and to study us and to write articles about us in the newspapers and football magazines. Some people are even surprised that we are able to play soccer at all. Maybe they thought we could only run long distances.”
Another reason for refraining from trips to Europe seems to be the colonial background of the game, for in the nineteenth century British soldiers took up the game they had come to learn back home in the seat of the colonizing power.
A new football spirit is now needed to do away with the attitudes of the past. New styles and concepts and coaching have to be developed and adopted, all in the spirit of ubuntu. New balls could be introduced, with black and white stripes, not just white stripes. There is also a need to be more self-reliant, to stop the dependence on the corrupt FIFA money from Switzerland.
One old man (who had been part of the old system) sighed that he had always helped young black soccer players. What was wrong with that? He had the experience for in his younger days he was a celebrated leftwinger. Now he has enough money to buy balls and other equipment (not to forget sponsoring grass seed for a proper football pitch). “Should I feel guilty about that?” and slowly he walked away, with a ball under his arm.
Mr. Gerald Franschhoek, who did not want to reveal the colour of his skin, has been closely following the national team for the last few years. According to him, even some players want to withdraw from European competitions. One of them is a player of Ajax Amsterdam. Many years ago he was scouted by an Ajax representative in South Africa. He was happy to make the move, but now he is in serious doubt. ‘When I score a goal with my head, people think I am a no-brainer. This has a negative effect on my performance. For a long time I thought the best thing in football was to play in Europe and to be well known in Europe. Maybe I should come back to South Africa to start a football school and organize football events for young boys and girls in the townships and at schools. I have noticed that many young people these days prefer to read books instead of playing football. I want to make a change.’
We were unable to contact the SAFA for a comment.