A Bafana Bafana legend has laid into the state of football facilities at grassroots level in South Africa and is looking at addressing this endemic in townships.
Sibusiso Zuma, who amassed over 60 caps at senior international level, retired at the impressive age of 40 from a professional playing career spanning two decades just over four years ago and has since turned his attention toward giving back to the game.
‘Rhee’, as he is affectionately known, last year announced plans to establish a provincial under-17 school’s football tournament through his Sibusiso Zuma Foundation but has had to put this on hold due to the vast amount of interest.
The 44-year-old, who enjoyed successful spells locally and in Europe, has detailed the reason delay and also outlined one major obstacle in youth development he is passion about eradicating over time.
“Well, it [the ‘Rheeloaded Schools Cup’] didn’t really start. The tournament was introduced but, because there’s such a big number of kids, we need to restructure it and make sure we get a big sponsorship for it,” Zuma tells KickOff.com.
“We’re checking different kinds of sponsorships, but at the moment I’m really busy with something I can’t jinx [by revealing it publicly].
“But I’m really focused more on youth and facilities. I mean, South Africa needs to realise that our national team is not going to improve when kids are still training on these kinds of fields.
“There’s a lot of – I don’t know if I can say this word – f****d-up fields around the country, it’s really bad. I mean, we’ve hosted the FIFA World Cup and we need to improve.
“So, I’m one of the guys that have taken the initiative of trying to fix this situation because it’s really bad. You feel for the guys playing there because we’re not improving. We need a high volume of soccer fields – I’m talking grass soccer fields – in the townships.”
Zuma is in talks with his former club FC Copenhagen and other stakeholders in his mission to uplift some of the communities – not only in his birth-province of KwaZulu-Natal but around the country.
“It’s not really limited only to KZN, I’m looking at Jo’burg or maybe Pretoria. We’re building three centres through the Sibusiso Zuma Foundation, in partnership with guys like FC Copenhagen and a lot of ex-bosses.
“I’ve had several meetings in Europe last year, going back and forth to try and ask for help from these guys.”