Football needs backing from all fronts to be as succesful as possible. Photo: Supplied

You’ll see them foaming at the mouth just before they spew this ridiculous statement as a defence for the Springboks and the Proteas’ lack of transformation.

“But why is anyone not saying anything about how ‘untransformed’ Bafana Bafana are?”

This line of thinking is wrong on so many levels. Firstly, Bafana’s make-up truly represents South Africa’s demographics. But these other sporting codes don’t; they represent the demographics you’ll find in private schools where they source most of their talent. 

Secondly, and more importantly, there isn’t a player who has ever been overlooked for Bafana just because of the colour of their skin. Even during apartheid, football was inclusive. The same can’t be said for rugby and cricket.

I thought of this when I read the story of Cape Town City’s continuing struggle to find a home. At the heart of this is Cape Town’s racist and stinking attitude towards football because this problem didn’t start now.

The Citizens’ struggle to get a proper training facility started last year and it’s still ongoing. I understand how there might be clashes with getting Cape Town Stadium for a match as it’s a multipurpose stadium that also needs to make money.

The Sevens World Series makes the city that money which football sadly doesn’t. It makes sense then to prioritise that over football.

But a club that has captured the imagination of the country and brought the buzz back in the Mother City shouldn’t struggle to get a proper training venue. That should be standard. It’s hard to think that the Cobras and the Stormers would ever have such problems.

I understand there are issues that are beyond Cape Town’s municipality with the Citizens’ current struggle for a match venue. The water crisis has hit the city hard.

“The water crisis in the Western Cape has impacted negatively on the football stadiums used by the Premier Soccer League clubs,” a statement from the PSL read.

“The league has had to close down a total of 13 venues as they do not meet the minimum requirements of the PSL As a result, Athlone Stadium has been used this season by all five teams in Cape Town, and this overuse has resulted in the grass dying.

“As from 1 December 2017, the Athlone Stadium will be closed to allow for the treatment and recovery of the pitch and installation of supply pipes.”

Because of this problem, Ajax Cape Town will “host” Baroka FC on Saturday next week at Bidvest Stadium, while the Citizens will face Maritzburg United at Princess Magogo Stadium.

It’s not an ideal situation, and it is no wonder City boss John Comitis is working on plans to build the Citizens their own home that will not only host their matches, but also provide a proper training venue.

Despite the huge strides the sport has made in the last two decades, it’s sad that so many clubs don’t have a home. It is something that needs to change so clubs can avoid finding themselves in such situations.

It’s strange that a sport with so much money and contributes to the livelihoods of so many people still relies heavily on other industries to function without owning anything.

Clubs spend millions a month on hotels, flights, security and renting stadiums. Surely by now they should have penetrated some of these markets that they rely on heavily to function by owning them or a portion of them.

The Citizens and other Cape Town clubs have been given the raw end of the deal due to the water crisis. But it should serve as a reminder to be more self-sufficient.

The Urban Warriors have one of the best facilities in the country – a place that they call home, where one can get the Ajax experience and even buy the club’s merchandise.

What they have is something that every club should have instead of begging for a training venue and leasing offices elsewhere for their “home”. We can’t just be an industry of consumers.

Football in the country has always been ahead in terms of being an inclusive sport by opening its doors to everyone. That’s the right thinking.

It shouldn’t stop there, though, as there is still a lot that the sport needs to do to grow. It’s up to all of us to ensure that.

We shouldn’t just complain when we are handed the raw end of the deal, but we should also mobilise to ensure that whatever injustice we experience, we experience them for the last time by doing something to change it.


Saturday Star

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