Football as played everywhere by non-Africans and non-South Americans, is just football; played along certain lines, into certain areas for a certain reason. And that’s that. Don’ t get me wrong, talent is talent and practise makes permanent. You may be asking yourself, so what? By nature Africans, hence South Americans, are dancers. They are light and nimble footed, enhancing their ability for fancy footwork. Well, everybody has kicked their mothers’ in the tummies when they thought of football before their birth, which is why everybody loves football.
When I was in Brazil, seeing those old men and old ladies playing football on the beach in Copacabana, children doing their thing on smaller pitches with coconut tree goal-posts, I was made to sit still and think hard. “Why do this nation have to do things this way? Is it why they are so successful?” Well, even the Brazilian air they breath has small footballs in it, so… At home, everybody is drinking their lives away. They smoke their potency to the ashes. Brazil is blessed with a few good green patches here and there, but they have homes for football, small and big and still, tall storey building dominate the skies around mountains and not much palyground. Ekasi where I come from, the population density results space scarcity. In Makokoba, Mamelodi, Khayelisha or EDube in Soweto where there is no road by chance, the surface is either rock or concrete. There is some generous acres that are either next to a river or long dead truck. We were born for diski and we have to play.
So the youngsters get to the spot and do their thing. Here the place is narrow and then, the ball. A hard surface. A very hard surface. In other words, where there is no cock nor tail, but still a cocktail for disaster. In these environs picture this. A 2×10 metre concreted turf and an aerodynamical inferior heavy duty plastic bag or for beginers, pulling socks, stuffed with over-all rags, and a youngster tries to “bend it like Beckam”. From where to where? Never. This guy must represent my country, your country. His footwear, the meatpie. May I take this opportunity to thank all the beautiful women who made a great contribution to the Beautiful game by providing that useful lingerie. Seeing Teko Modise, Peter Ndlovu, Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba scoring those goals, you are rest assured your expenses were not in vain.
So the options here are to manipulate the heavy tough non-moving ball through these closed hard spaces using bare feet with success. Your dancing skills usually wins the day for you. There is no room for crossing the balls. Anyway it is too heavy, even to shoot, and you wonder why African players are not always good headers of the ball, goalkeepers are bad at crosses. This is where we lose out on accuracy in front of goal, but when we get it right, the US government will be hunting you down to go shoot the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Keutsepilemang Football Academy was formed exactly to attend to these issues for the benefit of the football environment. The same environment was not able to support a project that did not give cheers to them at sunset. Many suns have set ever since and the masses are crying. Why this team this and that team that. There are teams that will not win an African Championship anytime soon. That’s a discussion for another day. Academies in Africa and the rest of the 3rd world should provide potential players with equipment to play the ball with shoes on grass and open wide space from the earliest possible age. We all want performers at the World Cup, but are not interested in making World Cup performers. There are nations, even in developing countries that have done successful development programmes and they see results, like the present youngsters, World Under 20 Champions, Ghana. The majority of us see their successes and want to pay their coaches lots of moneys. Pay developmental programmes if you want success in 10-15 years. If ever anyone want to get a coach to pay a nice sum, get a Brazilian at least. He will impart the very style that we are bred to be. Clubs and nations have entrusted Europeans with the African way of dancing. Can Gordon Brown teach a Metric class in Soweto iTwalatsa? Arthru Mafokate has a better chance getting a few tips from Bill Clinton about “Sika Lekhekhe.” It’s like the Pope having children and sending them to a Muslim school.