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Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 17:41 GMT
2010 World Cup inspiring SA youth
By Ashish Sharma
BBC World Service Sport

Like many other boys and girls, Hazel Naha, 18, harbours ambitions to one day play football for her country.

Danny Jordaan
Jordaan was instrumental in South Africa's winning the World Cup bid
"I started playing football in 2002 in the streets," she recalls, taking a break from practice in the South African township of Soweto.

"Then a coach saw me and said: 'Ah, there's potential here'. That's when I discovered that I also can do better."

She is already becoming proactive in raising awareness of the problems that surround women's football in the country.

With South Africa set to host the men's World Cup in 2010, she wants to know if there will be the same enthusiasm for a women's World Cup finals in the country.

"What we have found in our own country is that 60% of people who follow football are in fact women," explains Danny Jordaan, who single-handedly engineered the successful World Cup bid.

Apartheid legacy

The chief executive of the local organising committee for the 2010 finals, Jordaan acknowledges that women play a substantial role in football.

But he adds that there is a lack of support from the commercial companies in support of strengthening the drive of women's football.

Having met the likes of Doctor Khumalo and Danny Jordaan, I have realised that hard work is the key to success in anything in life
Bhandile Khalifa, 18
However, that can also apply to the men's game.

In 2010 South Africa will make history by becoming the first nation on the African continent to ever host the finals.

Financially, football as a sport lags behind cricket and rugby.

According to Ivor Hoff, the chief director of Sport and Recreation in the Gauteng Provincial government, this is a direct consequence of the policies under apartheid, which regarded cricket and rugby as "white" sports.

"We are looking at 2010 as an opportunity to strengthen football," he says.

"During the legacies of apartheid you can clearly see the infrastructure, the developmental programmes, the administrative approach to football, has been totally neglected.

"That's part of our legacy product so that beyond 2010 football will be sustainable amongst other codes of sport," he said.

But for now, the ambition which burns brightly amongst township boys - in Soweto in particular - is to play for their beloved national team, known as Bafana Bafana, in the World Cup.

Slim chance

Bhandile Khalifa, also 18 and a close friend of Hazel's, is among them.

He asks his footballing hero, the former national star and now youth development coach at the Kaizer Chiefs, Doctor Khumalo, how players are selected and what a youngster had to do to get into such a team.

Doctor Khumalo
Khumalo played for South Africa at the 1998 World Cup in France
"Youngsters who want to play seriously should develop discipline at an early age," Khumalo tells him.

"It's off the field that makes a player different or unique. Because if you take care of yourself off the field then things like playing or training become secondary.

"If physically, you are not equipped, then there is no way you can perform."

Bhandile, like Hazel, knows that the chances of becoming international players are slim, especially when its the same dream for every other 18-year-old.

This is why both have decided to place as much emphasis on their education.

"Having met the likes of Doctor Khumalo and Danny Jordaan, I have realised that hard work is the key to success in anything in life," Bhandile says.

"They worked hard to get where they are and so will I. If I don't make it in football I will make sure I study hard so I can make it somewhere else."

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