Uncertain future for Transnet School of Excellence

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The existence of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Transnet Football School of Excellence is under threat. Disgruntled employees at the school are demanding answers after more rumours surfaced that the school will be closing down.

The municipality disconnected the school’s electricity on Tuesday after failure to pay a bill of over 1. 3 million. The school was established back in 1994 and has produced a lot of top professional football players in the country.

After months of uncertainty, employees at the SAFA Transnet Football School of Excellence took matters into their own hands and stormed Transnet’s offices.

According to the school principal, Gilbert Molala, he spoke to the Chief Executive of Transnet, who revealed that the rail, port and pipeline company is no longer a sponsor of the school.

The school has produced well-known players for several South African professional clubs. Former Bafana Bafana players Steven Pienaar and Bernard Parker are products of the school.

The school recently produced Orlando Pirates player Relebohile Mofokeng, Mamelodi Sundowns’ Siyabonga Mabena and Boitumelo Radiopane of Cape Town Spurs. Now, the employees of the school, including teachers and coaches, face a bleak future. Learners have also decided to boycott classes due to the unfavourable conditions at the school.

School of Excellence Principal Gilbert Molala says, “Our frustration is that there is no electricity at school as I’m speaking, no one is promising to pay any salaries for all the employees at school. This is really frustrating and difficult for us, myself specifically to run that particular institution. Learners because they are staying there at our boarding facilities, they did not bath. Remember these boys are playing soccer there at the institution. As of yesterday, they did not bath.”

Molala says the workers are not even sure if they will get paid at the end of this month.

The school had an annual intake of 120 kids, but the numbers dwindled this year. Kids are given five-year contracts that run from Grades 8 to 12 before they are enrolled at the school.

“That is the frustration if I can tell you now, we are having a problem in terms of our grade 8 intake, which has been put on hold it’s pending as I’m speaking, we cannot call them because what if we call them, we need to be able to give them the same contracts that we gave to other learners,” Molala adds.

The school, which currently has 84 pupils, is also understaffed.

Former Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns player Gavin Silango now works at the school as a goalkeeper coach. Like all other employees, Silango who has worked for the school since 2010, faces an uncertain future.

“There’s a budget every year, which is R23 million, but we don’t see that money where it’s going and it’s painful for the kids and for the workers to go through those problems but under those conditions but still, we keep on pushing we motivate ourselves but today we came to a point and we said no this is enough, we can’t take it anymore,”

School of Excellence Employee Takalani Makhaga says, “Our main problem as cleaners is that I started in 2016 and I’m earning R4 000. Ever since I’ve been getting the same salary there’s no increase and some of those, I got there they have since retired. We were eight, but now it’s only three of us that are left.”

The School of Excellence has consistently produced at least 10 professional players a year for the past five years. Besides being football-orientated, the school is also an excellent educational institution that used to boast a hundred percent matric pass rate.