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Thu Apr 17 17:31:20 SAST 2014

Nothing ventured, nor won

Simnikiwe Xabanisa | 28 June, 2012 06:300 Comments

ONE of the reasons many people struggle to take the Democratic Alliance seriously is that it takes its role as the opposition a little too seriously.

My understanding of politics is limited, but too often I get the impression the party opposes things even when it actually agrees with them. It's almost as if it is afraid of conceding anything for fear of some agreeable genie being let out of the bottle.

Most South Africans are the same in fearing ever having a white president again.

It's something that has filtered into some of our main sporting codes, like soccer and rugby.

Despite Clive Barker having been its most successful coach, South African football appears determined not to have a white local coach again. For its part, rugby appears to have an irrational fear of a black flyhalf calling the shots.

The example in soccer is the current indecision in choosing between Steve Komphela and Gordon Igesund to replace former Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane.

A record four PSL titles to none suggests Igesund should be favourite, but Safa had to go against its technical committee for him to remain in the running.

I have nothing against the articulate Komphela, but, after 14 years of rebuilding since Barker was fired, what South African soccer needs is a coach who is proven at doing ambulance jobs.

Yet the Safa technical committee appears to be keener on the fact that Komphela outscored Igesund 90% to 70% in their interviews.

To paraphrase that, they're more interested in a candidate who talks a good game than in one who coaches a good game.

My contention is that, if Igesund were black, there would be no such issue. Think about it.

Judging by the many flyhalves who have ended up at centre, wing or fullback, rugby has a similar mistrust of a black face in the most crucial position in the team.

An example was how Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer lost the battle of internal wills on whether to hand Elton Jantjies his debut in the drawn test against England at the weekend.

Morne Steyn was having a shocker, and the game was calling for a change - any change. Yet Meyer fiddled until Owen Farrell missed the attempted drop goal that would have won the game for England after the hooter.

It's an unfair example because the natural conclusion to make is that, with the test in the balance, Meyer was trying to protect Jantjies.

But by the same token, one has to ask: would he have hesitated as much if the youngster on the bench had been Johan Goosen?

When confronted with players of similar ability, our coaches tend to go for the white player because of some misguided notion that they are more likely to do well because rugby is in their blood.

Giving Jantjies his debut would actually have been nothing out of the ordinary; Errol Tobias was selected in 1984 and the rugby world remained on its axis.

But the upshot of Meyer's hesitation is that Jantjies, who has earned his stripes in the game over the past two years, must be starting to have a complex about whether he really has what it takes to play at the highest level.

The thing about Meyer's call is that it was based on a fear of the unknown (Jantjies) and a fear of losing. So we ended up in a situation where literally nothing was gained because nothing was ventured.

Just like the PE draw suggested, as you were then.

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Nothing ventured, nor won

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Thu Apr 17 17:31:20 SAST 2014 ::