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Mzansi football needs to be decolonised

Whenever we talk about Sports generally, and in particular – football, we often view it as a recreational activity that generates money and brings entertainment to spectators. Most of us hardly see it as one of the means by state officials to gain hegemonic power over the masses.

It is no wonder then, that the state of football here in Mzansi has gotten worse after every year that goes by. The style of our football and its cultural heritage has been tampered with to suit the needs of those who have profit motives and nothing else in their hearts!

Pre 1994 when our beautiful game was not in the hands of capitalists, fans were treated to loads of raw skills and fantastic goals in consistent fashion. Then came the false democracy and suddenly oppressors wanted to have an input in how African players should carry themselves on the field of play.

We saw an Apartheid President, F W de Klerk walking hand in hand with Nelson Mandela in front of thousands of supporters at a packed FNB Stadium, with fans frantically singing the national anthem which contains ‘Die Stem’ and not even question anything about that. As if that was not enough they paraded our Black President at their rugby matches in order to make sure that the grand PR campaign called ‘the rainbow nation’ would be well visible for all to witness.

Besides being a sedative to an angry broken nation, what that PR strategy did was to destroy ibhola lethu njengabantu base Afrika! European managers began turning local players into robots; not allowing them to dance on the ball, thus killing their natural talent and creativity! The underlying motive for this is to impose a footballing philosophy that will appease European Clubs, Agents and Managers so that they could buy African players at cheap prices; because they know very well that they excel on the field!

On Saturday afternoon I watched the Soweto Derby which is the biggest game on the continent’s football calendar. The starting line-ups of both teams, and their benches were filled with super talented professionals. It is so heartbreaking how this kind of a fixture continues to display mediocre football that is too tactical, just for the sake of ‘not losing’ or not conceding goals. As a football nation this should NOT be our approach to matches. The beautiful game is for the people to enjoy, as was the case before.

Let’s take a close look at players like Joseph Malongoane and Xola Mlambo. These two maestros are natural gems but on the Big day of the derby, it was so easy to pick up that they were restricted by team tactics. On any other given day these two midfielders can literally bring the FNB Stadium to raptures with their undiluted skills. If only their technical teams allowed them to do so…….

Such naturally gifted players grow up playing in the dusty streets from the townships; being told that ‘ushukela’ is an essential ingredient to iDiski. Suddenly when they turn professional, they are told that the next best thing is to move to Europe where they will make more money if they fit into their foreign systems of play. These local players then neglect their primary responsibility which is to entertain and preserve Africa’s football heritage – all for the hope of attracting lucrative deals from overseas clubs.

Yes, there is nothing wrong with making money off ones skill & talent. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing to tactics for the benefit of the team. But why can’t that be done in an African context?!! Why should other people impose their playing philosophy over our own? The time has come for us to decolonise ourselves in every way possible, in all aspects of life.

Football is a big part of who we are here in Afrika. It impacts our Cultural Heritage ngendlela enkulu kabi la eMzansi and therefore, it should not be exempted when we talk about the Emancipation & Decolonisation agenda.

— Anonymous

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