It’s off-season on the football calendar but that opens up a window for grassroots football to be enjoyed across the country. Football enthusiasts don’t mind waking up early to spend time beside the pitch, watching some future stars develop their skills.
Some are concerned that talent identification starts very late and as a result, professional and national teams are robbed of a proper football display.
Opinions vary on the right time to identify talent. Some argue that the process should start at home before even knocking on the door of academies.
Football enthusiast, Nathi Mqokiyana believes that nurturing talent from a tender age is key.
“We are only looking at our investments and we make sure we use whoever is available and is ready to give me results at the time,” says Mqokiyana.
Mqokiyana believes that players need proper managers for their careers to flourish.
“I think Europeans do it very well. We also need to understand and respect that those are people’s careers. If we involve qualified managers or agents, they come up with a plan,” Mqokiyana added.
Some concur with Mqokiyana on the matter.
“All we know is that football is a short career. We need to teach them that when you get that money, use it and invest wisely. Remember that when you play football as an amateur, you don’t get paid but now you start all of a sudden earning a lot of money. It becomes a problem and they start spending it in a wrong way,” Sanele Mqwaka, former professional footballer.
Sanele Mbidana from Mbizana in the Eastern Cape received his first call-up for Bafana Bafana’s Cosafa Cup squad. The 18-year-old plays for Bizana Pondo Chiefs in the lower ranks.
“My former coach Clinton Larsen used to say he sees something big in me. For me, it has to do with working hard. I need to put more effort. I’ve never had something like this, being called for the national team. It’s rare to see someone from where I come from playing for Bafana Bafana,” says Mbidana.
There is no doubt that football is the most loved sport in the country. And despite the recent challenges faced by the people of Kwa-Zulu Natal, they have managed to organise local games to uplift their spirit.
People here at KwaNyuswa in rural KZN are the happiest when they are out watching the beautiful game on the bumpy and dusty field. They host an annual tournament and this year, it’s in honour for its founder, Minenhle Mkhize.
“Soccer is a religion in the country. People follow soccer and it’s an agent for social cohesion. Communities are not too demanding. They just want simple things like kits, cones, soccer balls, trophies, and medals,” says Sandile Zungu, Amazulu FC Chairman.
More of this kind of football can be witnessed across the country, especially during the off-season.