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OPINION: SAFA in good hands

Posted: 13 October 2014 Time: 13:58

SAFA president Danny Jordaan is slowly but surely turning the association into a brand that companies will be proud to associate with for the benefit of South African football.

As you would recall, Jordaan took over in August 2013 and, at the time, SAFA was, with all due respect, not the best run organisation around.

When Jordaan took over the association was in the red financially. They had reported R56-million and R46-million losses in 2012 and 2013 respectively, despite the cash injections from FIFA after the 2010 World Cup.

Now that’s all in the past with Jordaan at the helm.

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On Saturday, SAFA reported a R10-million profit at their annual general meeting in Johannesburg and EY (previously known as Ernst & Young), the professional services firm, commended Jordaan and his team for their successful turnaround strategy.

And rightly so, because the revenue went up by 35 percent in the past year largely due to the cost-cutting measures effected behind the scenes after Jordaan’s appointment.

SAFA is also reportedly sitting with a balance of R540-million in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Legacy Trust and the money is designated for development. 

According to a recent City Press report: “A total of R60-million has been allocated to different development projects for the period March 2014 to February 2015… SAFA has already established Under-15 Leagues in 290 of the 341 local football associations (LFAs) and Under-15 girls’ Leagues in 90 LFAs.

“Another major boost to development was the announcement of a three-year, R10-million funding of the Sports Development Centre to be built at Durban’s Hoy Park to develop players aged between 13 and 19.”

The aim, of course, is to have academies in each province and that obviously augurs well for South African football.

That aside, Jordaan’s team has also secured a R1-billion deal with Siyaya TV – that is R175-million a year over six years. SAFA’s deal with SABC that expires in May next year was worth R215-million over three years or R71-million a year.

Simply put, SAFA will make just over R100-million more a year with the new deal with Siyaya TV and, as Jordaan puts it, that will ensure that South Africa turns its “dreams into reality” with regards to the development of the game in the country.

Of course the TV deal has its critics because some believe that it will deprive many people who can’t afford pay-TV. But, to be fair, Jordaan has allayed those fears by stating that they are in talks with SABC, as the public broadcaster, to let them in on the new deal. Problem solved, isn’t it?

Furthermore, SAFA managed to persuade the Motsepe Foundation to invest R40-million for the Second Division over five years – a League that had had no sponsor for two seasons before the deal was announced in March.

Significantly, measures have been put in place to ensure that more younger players participate in the League, which is a step in the right direction because it will no longer be some ‘retirement village’ for some former professional footballers.

As SAFA noted in March when the deal was signed: “With 144 teams playing in the ABC Motsepe League, this will mean that in excess of 1500 players under the age of 21 will be given an opportunity to play in an organised, competitive League, getting exposed to stronger training and coaching. This single action will undoubtedly bode well for the national team in five to 10 years’ time, as this influx of young talent graduates to higher ranks of our football.”

And there is more.

Sponsors have come on board, including EY and Burger King, and there has been a R3-million injection from Sasol to the SAFA Development Agency.

It is also pleasing to report that Jordaan, who was speaking at SAFA’s AGM held over the weekend, emphasised the need to revive football at school level to be able to realise Vision 2022, which is aimed at seeing South Africa consistently ranked in the Top 20 in the world, and in the top three in Africa, and they have sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s support on this.

The U17s, U20s and Banyana Banyana also all qualified for major African tournaments, while Bafana Bafana are on the verge of qualifying for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.

To SAFA’s credit, very few saw it coming when they appointed Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba as Bafana’s new coach, with some in favour of a European coach.

The bottom line is this was a well-thought out decision, and for that credit to SAFA for bringing the right man on board – and I’m not just saying this because Mashaba has had a good start in the Afcon qualifiers.

If anyone in this country knows the importance of junior football it is Mashaba after all the years working with the youngsters at junior national team level.

All good it seems, but the challenge is that Jordaan only has a four-year term and, in his own words, there is very little one can do in that period.

The obvious response would be that he is buying more time for himself in the hotseat by trying to get a longer term, but the man has done incredibly well in just a year.

If anything, Jordaan deserves more than a four-year term.

After all, he is getting it right.

By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa
Follow me on Twitter @TTM16

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