‘THE BOYS’ IMAGE DETERIORATING
By: Talent Buthelezi
I’m sure most of you wonder why the South African national soccer team has an IsiZulu name. Well- here’s your explanation: during the apartheid regime like everything else in the country, soccer was also segregated.
The year 1991 was the turning point when the sport captured the attention of non-racial sports movements and became the first diverse sport, merging players from different race groups and the nation as a whole.
Football or soccer (as it is called in South Africa) is the most loved sport in the country, amassing the largest fan base followed by rugby and cricket.
“Soccer is the only sport that I follow and enjoy watching. I have a clear understanding of the game and enjoy watching it- whether it’s South African or international matches,” said Lungelo Phungula a soccer fanatic.
“The Boys” (the English translation of Bafana Bafana) have however lost their touch. Their series of misfortunes on the soccer field have evoked anger from not only soccer fans but also from Fikile Mbalula, the Minister of Sports and Recreation.
According to an article published by the City Press (20/01/14) Mbalula said, “We indeed have a crisis of monumental proportions and this tournament has evoked that.
The mediocrity we saw yesterday is disgraceful. Last night, we saw a bunch of losers who conceded two useless goals. We must never wake up to this situation again.” This was after the teams’ departure from the African Nations Championships (Chan). This, however, has caused fans such as Nokwazi Mazibuko great disappointment as she stated her disapproval of Mbalula’s remarks saying that the Minister should be inspiring the home team by always being optimistic and not discouraging them.
Bafana Bafana has had 15 coaches since 1992 with salaries ranging from R500.000 to R980.000. In 2010 South Africa became the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup and in commemoration of the 2010 World Cup the country built five stadiums. “It is undeniable that the country, the Minister and the coaches do their outmost best to ensure that the team is well equipped and ready for matches. The problem is not the coaches but the problem is the team itself- I believe they are lazy and are prone to losing”, said Zanele Tshabalala a former Bafana supporter.
Recently a new Bafana kit was introduced. The new kit consists of a white t-shirt with the country’s flag at the back of the neck, white shorts and white socks. The new uniform however has received a mixture of positive and negative response from soccer spectators.
“The new soccer uniform is awful. I don’t understand why the colour white dominates the uniform as white is hardly seen in the South African flag. By the rate Bafana is performing- they should be playing in hand me downs from 1996,” said Vusi Mazibuko a fan annoyed by Bafana’s performance over the past years.
However Samkelisiwe Zibane differs from Mazibuko’s opinion, stating that the uniform does not only look good but it is sure to help Bafana perform well as it said to control temperature during soccer matches.
On the 5th of March 2014 Bafana lost 5-0 to Brazil in a friendly hosted at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg. According to an article published in the Mail & Guardian the president received a hostile reception when he walked onto the pitch.
With President Jacob Zuma and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula being accused by fans for Bafana’s adversity on the soccer field, the future of the country’s soccer looks bleak as the game that once united the nation has now caused commotion from unsatisfied fans of “underperforming” players.