FA presidency, a throne footballers shun

Leading from the front: Bwalya is a former Zambia FA president PIC: FIFA.COM
Leading from the front: Bwalya is a former Zambia FA president PIC: FIFA.COM

Footballers are known to be fearless competitors, engaging in bloody, bruising battles, which have left some with life scars. But these gallant sons of the game appear meek when expected to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the boardroom, observes Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE

The football journey takes players through gruelling moments. They do not shy away from a tackle, which in some instance spells the end of a career. Some have emerged with broken jaws and countless ruptured ligaments, which they still carry today, as undoubted evidence of their sweat and toil over the years.

There are some glorious moments too to go with the crunching tackles and the sweat. The ultimate being the trophy in the hand, endless singing in the dressing room, celebrating a well earned victory and gold medal.

But at the end of what is sometimes a torturous journey, the bravery displayed on the pitch appears to desert footballers in boardroom matters.

At the end of illustrious careers, most players trade the lush green fields and the boots, for the suave appearance on the touchline.

Coaching is the well-trodden path for former footballers, with a few branching into administration.

In administration, there is one position that appears to be sacred; the football association’s presidency.

Despite garnering vital mileage on the pitch, which leaves them battle hardened, most players, across the continent, appear to lack the fortitude to go for football’s highest seat.

In the recent past, only Zambia’s Kalusha Bwalya has risen to lead his country’s football association.

Majority have chosen to stay away or at best, rather shout from the terraces without trotting into the field to join the bruising administrative battles.

As some associations across the continent prepare for presidential elections, it appears the trend will not be bucked anytime soon.

One of Africa’s celebrated football sons, Didier Drogba recently suffered a shock, humiliating defeat in his bid to lead the Ivory Coast football body.

That was after former players unanimously rejected his candidature.

Locally, former Zebras midfielder, Masego Ntshingane is already in the corridors of football’s epicentre, Lekidi Centre, as second vice president.

Former presidents, Tebogo Sebego and Philip Makgalemele were former players, but did not shoot to proclaimed prominence on the pitch.

Ntshingane, a sprightly left footed midfielder for the Zebras, is not too far from the throne, but only as far as the BFA organogram is structured.

However, he looks ambitious enough to rise to the top post and represent a successful crop of players he donned the Zebras jersey with. These include Ernest Amos, Diphetogo Selolwane, Mogogi Gabonamong, Nelson Gabolelwe, Modiri Marumo amongst others.

Ntshingane argues, not all players are cut for the job, as there are other credentials needed other than being a footballer.

“I really don’t think former players shy away from the position. For me, the starting point is the prerequisites and what is takes to head a big organisation like an FA. We should not just take it for granted that it is only football. Leadership by nature is not an easy feat.

“At that level you are a board chairperson for one of the biggest businesses in the country,” Ntshingane said.

“You will be expected to offer strategic direction, guide the direction the organisation will head, which all are big roles. Honestly, may be that is why most of the guys would prefer to do what they are comfortable with, which is (playing) football and the majority resort to coaching. Remember coaching is a job, and the FA presidency and general football administration is voluntarism. For me, I think we should try to make it attractive so that it also attracts quality,” he also said.

He said footballers have to up skill themselves in order to meet the requirements of the FA job. Ntshingane cited Samuel Eto as a good example after the Cameroonian enrolled at the Havard School of Business to enhance his skills.

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