By Andile & Mandla Dladla
Working in the ABC Motsepe league, the third tier of South African football comes with its own challenges. But coach Biko Mazibuko is a mentor that thrives on challenges and enjoys being hands on especially towards the growth of football in Africa.
Mazibuko coaches Mashou Mover’s (Zebras FC) based in the North West and being based in the south of Johannesburg, Lenasia South to be exact, the belief of the coach and everyone involved is to find themselves campaigning in the GladAfrica Championship (Second tier) in the not so distant future.
He acknowledges that competition to get to the second division is pretty tough. But certainly not as tough as in Johannesburg where most of the country’s strongest teams are congregated and he attributes that to the fact that the game is not efficiently run in the North West as it is in Johannesburg.
“I also feel that SAFA focuses more on the teams based in Johannesburg,” says Mazibuko. “If you look at the teams that qualify for the Nedbank Cup, they are mostly from the city of gold.”
But Mazibuko points a finger at one aspect of the game that he feels is contributing to the lack of progress in football – AGENTS!
“They (Agents) are destroying the game,” charges Mazibuko. “In most cases they mislead players. Mind you, not all of them are bad apples. But the majority are not good for the game.
“In my view, an agent should be like parents to these young boys and girls but instead all they care about is the money and how to make more money whereas they should be guiding and assisting these youngsters in financial decisions.”
With the Olympic Games around the corner, Mazibuko feels that the national U-23 coach David Notoane has selected a competent team and the players were chosen on merit, he reckons.
“Things have changed compared to the days when we played football because it was for the love but nowadays the important thing is the motivation behind a selection which is playing for money in most cases.
“Another crucial point is that we have adopted too much of the European playing style and seem to forget about our own special way of playing the game.
“As coaches we want to change a lot of things instead of teaching and guiding our players to produce the results in a way that will make us shine in our own way.
“We trust and support coach Notoane that our boys will do well and listen to him so we come back with a gold medal.”
But one cannot run away from the fact that running a team in the lower divisions of South African football means one has to dig into your pocket.
“The South African Football Association only gives you the grant at the end of the season and which is not sufficient enough to even pay your players and end up using your own money.
“If you are going to rely entirely on the grant then you are less likely to see the business end of the season due to traveling expenses which will lead to your team not being able to honour fixtures and there is a rule that says ‘if you miss three games then you are expelled.”
He also pointed out the lack of proper infrastructure as something that will forever retard the progress of domestic football which in turn would affect the performance of Bafana Bafana.
“For example in Lenasia South at the Kiasha Park grounds where we hold our training sessions, you find five teams all using a single field to train and that does not make sense, it’s a nightmare for a coach trying to implement your strategies.”
It is not going to happen over-night but the assistance of government in terms of the establishment of proper infrastructure is definitely what is needed for the overall improvement of the game.