The game of football has always been a global one, but the sport has never been a major spectator sport in the country it is played in.
South Africa is no longer the land of the golden boot.
It has become the land where you need to be the best, with every recruit, every coach, every player needing to have the talent to make a difference.
That’s what the South African Football Federation (Safeguard SA) is hoping will change this season, when it opens its doors to the world of professional rugby league.
It is aiming to have 50,000 recruits a year by 2019, the number it set in 2016.
That is more than any other country.
“We have never had such a big recruiting market in South African football.
Rugby league has always attracted talent and the sport itself is growing,” said SafeguardSA chief executive, Tania Oluwane.
The sport is already attracting international players.
The last time it hosted a full international match was in 2000, when the All Blacks and the All Black All Stars faced off.
Since then, the national teams have had to turn to the game’s bigger boys for inspiration.
“It is a big change from the past where it was a bit more down to earth,” said one player.
“Now you are playing for your national team and that is something I can be proud of.”
A player who knows what it’s like to be on the other sideOf course, the best rugby league players don’t just come from a rugby union background.
The game has evolved over the years and is increasingly played on a smaller scale.
“This is not a game you can play for a couple of years and then move on to something else,” said rugby league coach Nicky Webster.
The game is also becoming more competitive and that’s something the national team is keen to keep in mind.
“The players are very good at the game,” Webster said.
“If we can get them up to the level they were at in the past, that would be great.”
It’s a big part of the sport and it’s important for the national side as well, especially in the current climate, as well as for the players.
“So they are going to need to stay in the game for the next 10 years and beyond.””
In terms of players we need to get them to the big clubs because they are the best in the world and they are really important to us,” Webster added.
“So they are going to need to stay in the game for the next 10 years and beyond.”
There are still a few months before the 2019 Rugby League World Cup takes place.
“There is always going to be some time for the game to adapt and get more exposure to the wider world,” Webster told the ABC.
“But we have to remember we are at the beginning of the process, and we will be in the process for years to come.”
Hopefully this year is the year we can kick off the journey and see the game grow in the rest of the world.