Yaya Toure inspires South African youth to dream bigThomas Kwenaite
By Andile & Mandla Dladla
The partnership between the South African Football Association (SAFA) with the Department of Sport, Art & Culture in Johannesburg last week to launch the FIFA Football for Schools programme could be the turning point in the revival of school football.
The event took place at the SAFA Technical Centre in Fun Valley south of Johannesburg where teachers from across the country were invited to spend a week with coaches from FIFA learning about the importance of children getting the right coaching at school.
It is also a programme that has been structured in such a way that it balances education with sport, creating a holistic approach to the development of a human being imbued with independent thinking.
The programme comes at a time when school football was on the verge of collapse in South Africa. Few people are aware that schools football was the gateway to professionalism as many players were discovered through Schools sport.
Pitso Mosimane, Aubrey “The Great” Makgopela, Mafa Maponyane, James “Killer” Mkhwanazi, Basil “Section 10” Gwangwa, Eric “Chippa” Chauke, Andries “Panyaza” Chitja, “Teenage” Tutu and many others were discovered during Schools football which in recent years has collapsed.
Teachers got an opportunity on the last day of the FIFA programme to rub shoulders with former Ivory Coast, Barcelona and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure who flew into the country to be part of the proceedings and inspire both the children and teachers to reach for their dreams.
Toure was in Istanbul, Turkey on August 25 among superstars conducting the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup draws and rushed to the airport immediately to fly overnight to Johannesburg for the launch of the FIFA Football for Schools project of which he is an ambassador.
Bafana Bafana legends like Aaron Mokoena, Mark Williams, Portia Modise and legends such as Lebo Kukame, Steve Pila, Steve Sekano, Manqoba “Shakes” Ngwenya were some of the important guests in attendance.
Former Mamelodi Sundowns Managing Director and now one of SAFA executive members Anastasia Tsichlas was also in attendance and shared some light into what we can expect as Africans when it comes to the development of football.
“I am always in the game and involved with the development of football,” said Tsichlas. “Personally I am very happy at how the women’s game is growing across South Africa and the world.
“There is a lot of programmes that we have been busy with and as an executive member at SAFA I’m also involved with CAF development programmes.
“Development will always be in my heart and I remember at Sundowns back in 1996 when I established the ladies team and I feel gratified today when I realize that they are African champions.
“I am equally delighted to see Banyana Banyana crowned African champions because if you remember we almost did it in Ghana back in 2018. This team is a great team with young players that will carry this legacy further.
“We have to pass on our knowledge to the current generation who in turn must also pass it forward to the next generation.”
FIFA Football for Schools comes at a time when South Africa is battling with unemployment and drug abuses which are destroying the lives of young people and hopefully the programme will redirect the energies of the youth.