The transition of South African football from a deadly split in the professional ranks to a fully-fledged member of the world game was brilliantly depicted in the second episode of SuperSport’s “Pulse of a Nation”, which aired for the first time on Sunday and can be watched again on DStv Stream.
Few countries have had as turbulent a history as South Africa and this permeated down to the footballing structures, which underwent a revolution of sort in 1985 with the mass defection of clubs from one league to another.
It created the forerunner to what is known today as the Premier Soccer League and laid the groundwork for a more vibrant professional era when the game commanded captaincy crowds and made superstars of its players.
But it was not without a cost as soccer officials were murdered in the aftermath of the split that saw all 18 top flight clubs move en masse away from the National Professional Soccer League to form the National Soccer League in early 1985.
The violence that marked the change is vividly told in “Pulse of a Nation”, explaining dramatically the ramifications of the split.
But while blood was spilt, a time when violence was endemic to the country’s black township, the change in structure heralded a new era of commercialisation and economic opportunity.
The game, then still played in isolation from the rest of the world because of the country’s apartheid system, was able to flex its muscle in a positive way and establish itself as a powerful force.
It also meant South Africa was ready to take on the new challenges presented in the early 1990s when apartheid was buried and the country’s sport no longer a pariah.
South Africa became a member of world football’s governing body, Fifa, in mid-1992 and was ableRead on supersport.com