STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION SOUTH AFRICA, MR FIKILE APRIL MBALULA, MP, ON THE OCCASION OF THE MEDIA CONFERENCE TO CONGRATULATE THE GROWLING LIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA, 25 JANUARY 2015
“We stand here this morning as a proud and confident nation imbued by the resounding thrashing, walloping and gregarious defeat of the Marion Island national football Team in Ethekwini by the our astonishing and call-heading warriors the Growling Lions, the crown jewel of the nation of the most popular sport in our country and the world over.
There will come a time, one day, when the sports ministry, Sascoc or someone will get around to telling us who paid for Floyd Mayweather to visit South Africa. Perhaps it will happen when the first young boxer from the Dube club in Soweto goes into a ring, wins and tells the world that almost getting trained by Mayweather during his 30-minute visit to the club had inspired him.
Until then, we will have deafening silence from pretty much everyone on the visit of a man who has $120-million (about R1,3-billion) in one bank account, does not wear the same pair of boxer shorts or takkies twice, has been undefeated in 45 fights, was born with an incredible talent and has developed a quite single-minded dedication to his job, and that nagging conviction for beating up his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his children because she dared to date another man.
When the sports minister arrives not only on time, but five minutes early for an appointment, then you know there is someone in the country he is gaga about. He pulled up to the front of Olympic House on Wednesday night at 7.55pm in a mini convoy that consisted of a black Porsche SUV and another car that was also black, but not a Porsche.
Then Floyd Mayweather and his entourage arrived in two Bentleys, both of them big, black and shiny, and just about everyone went gaga.
Michael Slater’s voice could cut through concrete, which is a good thing if you are in the construction of buildings, but not so good if you are in the construction of commentary. It sliced through the morning air yesterday, turning the day of our lord into the morning of our, “Oh, Lord,” as he fought for airtime with Ian Healy and a somewhat bemused Mike Hussey.
Slater, as one colleague has observed, seems to think he is covering a race horse and has been told that it is a sin to allow for even the smallest bit of dead air. A pause is not a time for reflection, but a sign of weakness. The Channel 9 commentary team feel like they are in competition with each other to speak the most, as though they get paid by the spoken word. This is what happens with good Australian teams when they begin to break up prematurely – they have to try desperately to make room for them in the booth, which is why they have squeezed three of them in there. Some of them are excellent, others mediocre, a few others in for nonsense value and at least one of them because he is old.
There’s nowt so queer as folk, as the saying goes. In the 21st century you’d hope and expect that there was nowt so queer as queer folk having to make an announcement that they are queer, but homophobia is set thick in the world; there is much loathing hidden, lurking and threatening boys who like boys and girls who like girls.
The wonderful thing about the coming out of Thomas Hitzlsperger, the 52-cap German footballer, was the simple fact he felt at ease enough to announce he was gay. The sad and frightening thing about it was Hitzlsperger announced it only after he had retired from professional sport.