SOUTH AFRICA ARE BUILDING

first_imgSouth Africa Touch are here with four teams and they’re improving continually and dramatically. It was a privilege to be at the Opening Ceremony where the South Africans march and singing was not only emotional but the highlight of the ceremony for me. So I sat down yesterday and chatted with Richard Mullins (Under 20 Mens Coach) and Labeeb Levy (Under 18 Mens Coach) about the state of Touch in their Nation and where it’s heading. Back in 1995 Touch was virtually non-existent in South Africa, and what little interest there was focused on the one-touch game. (Similar to the traditional six touch game but with one Touch before a turnover rather than six.) Arriving at the 1995 World Cup in Hawaii was a shock introduction for the South African Touchies, confronted with a completely different set of rules and style of play. It is estimated that in 1996 South Africa had about 600-700 players and just three leagues, one each in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. By 1999 South Africa had developed to a level where they brought together three National sides; Mens, Womens and Mixed for the 1999 World Cup and results began to pick up. In 2001 they sent a Womens 20’s side to the first Youth World Cup and in 2003 they sent, Mens, Womens, Mixed and Mens 35’s to the World Cup in Japan. Today there are about 60 teams in 12 leagues, with between 6000-7000 players. There are many social and economic factors that are helping and hindering the sport of Touch in South Africa. The growth of Touch in schools has been vital to the development of the young Touchies we’re seeing this week on the Sunshine Coast. In the last 2 years they have helped three school leagues develop, bringing many talented kids through their Touch programmes. Visits and tours from groups such as the Australian Masters sides is also helping to develop Touch, as they make South Africans more aware of the sport and it’s positive aspects. “One opportunity for us is that it’s a new sport that doesn’t require anything more than an open field and a football, we can play it on the street and it’s not as rough as Rugby,” said Richard. “But on the other side it does cost a lot of money to attend tournaments like this and we have a number of players that can afford it and a number that simply can’t.” “Many of our kids spent much time selling raffles and fundraising in order to make this trip,” said Labeeb. “Also if this trip had been just three days later than we would have saved $600 per person in travel and visa costs because of the change of travel season,” he added. As they grow in depth they are discovering an increasing number of incredibly talented players in some of the small towns scattered around their Nation. “Unfortunately no money goes into developing sport in our country,” said Labeeb. “We need so much development and money for our housing and other social areas, so unfortunately sport suffers a little, there is so much talent in these areas and we need to tap into that and develop it,” he said. Both Richard and Labeeb have no doubt that there kids have the talent and the potential to be world leaders in Touch Football. “We love it just as much as you guys,” said Richard. “We just have to continue to work with the social and economic problems confronting our nation and then keep developing our coaches, referees and administrators so we can develop our players and competitions,” he said. The experience of International competition such as this is no doubt invaluable for the South African sides. “We want to not only become more competitive every time we play, but to create our own brand and style of Touch Football,” said Labeeb. “You have the Australian style and the New Zealand style, we want to create the South African style.” And if anyone wants any more evidence pf the South African commitment to being here and playing Touch, then look no further than the South African Mens 18’s player who addressed his team mates at half time in a match against New Zealand: “We could be walking down the streets of Johannesburg and get shot and die, but here let us die for our country.” By Rachel Moyle, media@austouch.com.au LINKS: Stories will be on the homepage, www.austouch.com.au as well as archived under the link `Tournaments’ then `International Events’ on the left hand side of the homepage. Simply follow the links to the 2005 Youth World Cup stories. For other Youth World Cup stories check out the Federation of International Touch site using the following link: FEDERATION OF INTERNATIONAL TOUCH For all the latest results check out the SportingPulse site using the following link:SPORTINGPULSE RESULTS/DRAW HOMEPAGElast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *