Amateur football is not for the faint-heartedThomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla
Running football at amateur level is not a bed of roses. It is a hard and thankless task, let alone the fact that to those people involved in amateur football, it is quite often another form of throwing money down the drain.
There is simply no financial assistance to lessen the burden either from the government or the national federation. In as much as most people that are running football at amateur level do it as part of their community upliftment project, few are able to cope these days.
Yet for people like Tshepo Boshielo, folding his shirt sleeves and getting his hands dirty while working with kids at amateur level is the only way to keep kids out of notorious township streets and to discourage them from using drugs or anti-social behaviour is his way of contributing to building a society we all strive to live in.
“There are simply too many distractions for the younger generation and I derive a lot of pleasure and satisfaction out of taking our young boys and girls out of the street and onto the playing fields and thus contributing to making our communities safer.’
Boshielo identified football as a popular sport enjoyed by both boys and girls and thus, in order to use football as a vehicle to keep the youth off the streets, he founded Tshepo United Stars FC at the beginning of the 2020/21 season and affiliated it to the Roodepoort Local Football Association.
“Surprisingly as a team we won our LFA first stream at the first attempt and found ourselves competing in the SAB League,” says Boshielo. “We were unfortunately relegated back to our LFA due to outbreak of covid-19 challenges after we played only the first round of games.
Tshepo United who have assembled a bunch of exceptionally talented boys around their area, were not discouraged and considered the set-back as a learning curve by committing themselves to ensuring that the team returns to the ABC Motsepe League in the few seasons.
The majority of Amateur football club owners neither have deep pockets nor good Samaritans out there willing to assist financially and just get involved with through their sheer love of the game, yet their sacrifices cannot be over emphasized due to their contributions making sure that they develop the bulk of professional players we see in countless clubs across South Africa.
Most of these players have come through the amateur ranks and unfortunately such teams do not have the financial muscle to develop further due to lack of support and involvement from the government.
“In the ABC Motsepe league teams still have to pay from their own pockets to utilize municipal soccer facilities as well as appearance fees for the referee and his assistants which is something that can be covered by the government, if not the national federation.”
Tshepo United Stars FC is mostly represented by teenagers from different backgrounds and their goals are naturally not the same.
“As coaches and administrators it is on us to help them achieve their ambitions and see things in a different ways. Some want to make it to the professional level while others are there just to support and play with their more dedicated friends.
“It is also our duty to ensure that they learn to manage their time efficiently by balancing their football with school work.”
The lack of sponsorship does not deter him from coming up with innovations to keep the boys interested in playing the game even though they are not paid, not even in kind and this is the reason why he had introduced end of the year awards to reward those that performed exceptionally well.
“The idea of having awards for the team at the end of the season is to mirror exactly what professional players would be doing so that from the beginning of the season they set out goals like becoming ‘Player of the season’. It is to teach them to have individual goals that align with the team’s goals.”
“I always tell them that “if you don’t have goals in life then the universe doesn’t know what to give you in return.”
The awards gave the boys a lot of motivation and that streamlines the value system of the team.
Football can change your life and take you out of poverty. But outside of playing it’s the disciplines you learn from the game that can also change your life to be a better person and keep working hard.