President: The Role of SAFA in School Sports, 2001
How often have you heard the phrase …… “Geez, these young people of today just do not have what it takes. If only they had lived when we were around.”
Or ……. “these kids are no good.’
Or ……. “our generation knew what they were about. So, if only they would listen to us, there would’nt be any problem.”
As a truly conservative species, humanity’s penchant is to glorify that which previously occurred and regard with suspicion that which it currently faces and to be somewhat hesitant about that which is still to come.
The singular problem of our time is the divergence between what OUR perceptions of today’s young people are and what THEY think they want to be.
Add that to what society expects of them and what society actually needs and you have a very confusing set of conditions under which these young minds have to function.
One thing that is certain is that, in this mix, the one constant is change. What the nature of that change is depends on the confluence of all the forces which shape the youngster’s environment. The best we can hope for is to play some role in the general development of that young person’s character and strive to influence those other forces —
WE CANNOT CONTROL THE COMPLETE ENVIRONMENT!!!!
Yet, because we fear that lack of control, we tend to describe our youngsters in terms that deny their everyday reality. We tend to talk about what they should NOT be instead of what they should be. We tend to say to them “we don’t think you are good enough to be you! You must become us!”
What a struggle it must be for them. If we now put our expectations together with the other negative influences that confront our young people on a daily basis, their very active minds will turn to anything – much of it different from what we expect. Sometimes that ‘anything’ is crime, violence, and other deviant activities. Without a positive frame of reference and conditioning they cannot tell the difference between what is appropriate behaviour and what is not.
We therefore have a social responsibility to engage them in a positive and proactive manner to help them shape their own environments for the betterment of the whole society. We think football provides that proactive social environment and disciplinary training to shape a positive future for our youth.
Football has historically served as a haven for the vast majority of this country’s citizens who rejected enforced racial separation. Moreover, the unequal treatment of our people, especially our young people, has led many to assume lives of crime and to adopt other deviant behaviours.
As the most popular sport in our country, football has become the great equaliser. The value of the sport has grown in leaps and bounds during the past ten years under the direction of SAFA. Since 1989 the sport has doubled in size from 900,000 participants to 1,865 million registered participants in 2000. The sport has experienced a compounded growth rate of 5% per annum over the last ten years under SAFA. In a survey by Markinor Research last year, 54% of South Africans registered football as their sport of choice.
SAFA has established a high degree of professionalism in its governance, promotion and leadership of the sport in South Africa. Its mission statement is evidence of its commitment to integrating the roles of all participants in our sport, from providing excellent value for money to its sponsors to staging excellent development programmes for its youth structures.
We now run two very successful leagues and plan to launch a third one, the Sanlam Women’s League, in just one week from now. We mount inter-regional tournaments for all the traditional age groups. These tournaments have become incubators for the development of South Africa’s top football stars.