SAFA must support SAA sponsorship with informative input

HUGO Broos and his Bafana Bafana may have secured a travel sponsorship but it all rests with the suits at Safa House for them to enjoy smart travels. | BackpagePix

HUGO Broos and his Bafana Bafana may have secured a travel sponsorship but it all rests with the suits at Safa House for them to enjoy smart travels. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 22, 2024


IT’S great news that the South African Football Association (Safa) has landed a sponsorship from South African Airways (SAA), the national carrier.

This backing will ensure that Safa will have transportation of all the national teams for the next year. SAA will be the official airline for Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana.

Recently, Safa went to great expense to charter a flight to Nigeria. It was a wonderful initiative aimed at easing the plight of Bafana ahead of their World Cup qualifier in Nigeria.

As it turned out, the trip was a nightmare, and no one was held accountable. Bafana coach Hugo Broos went to great lengths to say no one could be blamed for the travelling glitches. Instead, Broos showered praise on the players for showing great character after they missed a fair amount of sleep on the eve of the match.

It is unknown why Broos was so forthcoming in saying no one was to blame, but it was an unsettling experience, and the result could have been disastrous. However, the team surprised all and sundry by holding the vastly superior Super Eagles at bay on their home turf.

Safa hired the charter, which if all had gone to plan, would have seen the team arrive at their destination in Uyo, a Nigerian town, perhaps six hours earlier.

The team’s departure was delayed by six hours, and Safa was taken by surprise. After the flight took off, the plane stopped four hours later for refuelling. Again, this unexpected stop delayed the flight.

Once the flight continued, the next stop was Port Harcourt, a city in Nigeria. Here, the team’s visas were processed without fuss. However, because the team arrived later than expected, they could not proceed to Uyo, because the Obong Victor Attah Airport there only operates from sunrise to sunset.

The problem was that Safa did not have the foresight to learn what the flight entailed. They failed to do what Mamelodi Sundowns often do ahead of trips into Africa. They send officials on a reconnaissance mission and then experience the trip.

Safa has not expressed disappointment after the travelling nightmare, but that might be because it doesn’t have officials who are experienced in this field. Many officials in key positions are greenhorns, and they will pick up experience as time goes on.

In the meantime, as the Nigeria trip proved, the Bafana players pay for that inexperience as they were the ones who suffered.

This nightmare comes at a good time because Safa will have to support this SAA sponsorship by ensuring the team takes the shortest and most convenient route to countries for matches. Safa officials must make an educated input.

This is not something that must be left to SAA. They are not in the business of looking after the wellbeing of travelling sports teams. Safa needs to assign officials who will plan the itinerary in conjunction with SAA.

Only then Safa will reap the full benefits of the SAA sponsorship.