Paying homage to SA’s soccer legends
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