Pay­ing homage to SA’s soccer leg­ends

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­

As the coun­try cel­e­brated 40 years since the Soweto Up­ris­ing, the Soweto Lo­cal Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (SLFA) had a cel­e­bra­tion of its own – recog­nis­ing its foot­ball he­roes.

While June 16 1976 changed the course of South African his­tory, the lo­cal as­so­ci­a­tion be­lieves foot­ballers also played a cru­cial role in the lib­er­a­tion of the coun­try.

Foot­ball leg­ends of yes­ter­year will have their own tour­na­ments in and around Soweto.

Young play­ers will grad­u­ate from Ariel “Pro” Khon­goane’s Un­der-13 tour­na­ment to Mike Ntombela’s Un­der-15 con­test to Doc­tor Khu­malo’s Un­der-17 event.

Jomo Sono will also have his own soccer chal­lenge billed for all Un­der19s, while Pitso Mosi­mane will have a se­nior show­down named af­ter him.

The Kaizer Mo­taung soccer chal­lenge is billed for academy league clubs.

Jo­hannes “Yster” Khomane and Al­fred “KK” Lentsoane will also have their own com­pe­ti­tions. SLFA chair­man Phil Mo­godi said they took the de­ci­sion to hon­our their leg­ends af­ter re­al­is­ing that the present crop of youth knew noth­ing about them.

“If we don’t recog­nise them now, no one will, and they will soon be for­got­ten. We want them to be re­mem­bered for­ever by nam­ing tour­na­ments af­ter them. Foot­ball played an im­por­tant role in the strug­gle too, hence we are here to­day to recog­nise them,” said Mo­godi.

He said they were en­cour­aged by the re­sponse from the leg­ends.

“Some have agreed to use their own money to run these events and we are grate­ful for that.”

He said all the leg­ends would be hon­oured, as LFA was di­vided into eight zones and each zone had Un­der-9, Un­der-11, Un­der-13, Un­der15, Un­der-17 and Un­der-18 leagues.

For­mer Kaizer Chiefs and Wits Uni­ver­sity striker Mike Man­gena de­scribed the recog­ni­tion as one he would for­ever cher­ish.

Man­gena ap­plauded the as­so­ci­a­tion for em­brac­ing the for­mer leg­ends, say­ing the ges­ture would go a long way.

“I was sur­prised when Min­is­ter [Fik­ile] Mbalula hon­oured peo­ple and my name was not there when I played a cru­cial role in South African foot­ball. Re­mem­ber, I am the first black player to play for Wits and it was not easy, as I was barred from en­ter­ing ho­tels with my team­mates, but they fought for me. I played a role in the strug­gle,” said Man­gena.

He said the recog­ni­tion would shape the land­scape of SA foot­ball.

“It’s long over­due, and for me it is bet­ter than all the awards I have won be­fore. This will for­ever be there for the next gen­er­a­tions to come.”

An­other leg­end who could not con­tain his ex­cite­ment was Jerry Sadike, the for­mer Chiefs, Or­lando Pi­rates, Pimville United Brothers and High­lands Park striker.

“We need to doc­u­ment our his­tory and this is one way of do­ing that,” said Sadike.


AM­BI­TIOUS Soweto Lo­cal Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Phil Mo­godi

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