We all have the ability to create champions

Just like the recent Rugby World Cup triumph by the Springboks, the 2010 World Cup has refocused the nation's attention on many domestic issues.

By way of example, besides allowing an opportunity to celebrate, the win by the Springboks has highlighted the need to still work on the national reconciliation agenda as well as the amount of work we still need to do to develop young, talented South Africans.

This point was made by President Thabo Mbeki when he also identified it as one of the key government failings that sport had not been prioritised over the past 13 years.

What he meant was that the Bryan Habanas and the JP Pietersens do not create themselves, they develop obviously due to their inherent talents supported by huge helpings of public, governmental or societal interventions.

It is interesting to note that most of the black players performing at the highest level in the sports previously regarded as the preserve of fellow white South Africans, have received some private school tuition.

It is also interesting to note that they also have committed parental or mentor involvement in their development. Thus, their total commitment to their talent and craft, accompanied by their resultant achievements.

Sad to say but the same cannot be said for most of the current crop of footballers. Many are talented, yes, but very few receive the kind of support their counterparts receive in rugby or cricket. They invariably develop on their own, with little support from their communities or parents. This is probably one of the reasons why very few football players survive in the top flight.

But time is still on our side. We can still instil the same sense of commitment in the young by helping them understand that every time they achieve great things for themselves, they also do so for the rest of us.

In other words, 'O nna motho ka batho ba bangwe'. You become a champion because we make you one. The true measure of a champion is talent that is anchored in focus and 100 percent commitment. I believe that the national coach, Carlos Alberto Parreirra and his support staff are working on this and in time their efforts should bear fruit.

The same challenge should go to the professional clubs. Given that the clubs know the background and the circumstances under which most of these youngsters grew up, one can only hope the administrators and club owners invest time, money and resources in developing the character of the future champions.

As I have said, it takes talent plus character to turn an individual into a champion. The school system should also play its part here. The public school system should provide adequate facilities and coaching for budding stars. The parents of these youngsters, not only in football but in many sporting and artistic endeavours, need to get involved by at least providing emotional and moral support.

The communities need to take ownership of the emerging stars as they ultimately put the communities on the map. Give them a sense of belonging and responsibility to their people.

Remember the links between Patrick "Ace" Ntsoelengoe and Mohlakeng; Mecro "Masterpieces" Moripe and Atteridgeville; Johnny "Magwegwe" Mokwena and GaRankuwa... the list goes on.

Let us remind ourselves: ' Umuntu ngu muntu nga bantu (a person is a person because of other people).'

l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. - For your suggestions, queries and more on 2010, e-mail TimM@2010saloc.com