A tribute to the legendary Fabs Byrow
Many an adult will be cherishing a smile and a warm glow as they remember the days they spent in the company of a special and inspiring leader.
A leader in sports, a leader in education, a leader in the community, Mewalal (Fabs) Byrow (21 Feb 1948 – 13 Mar 2003) will forever be remembered for his contributions to the world of sport and teaching.
He was a legend whose dedication to uplifting the youth and the downtrodden by creating avenues to keep children off the streets and away from drugs and other maladaptive social behaviours, was unparalleled.
Achieving this was a mammoth task, which could be appreciated by just looking at the process of having six teams in 1979 registered in the Durban Football Association (DFA). This undertaking involved working tirelessly to ensure that the registration cards, kits, footballs and all players were at the grounds on time.
The youngest of a fresh produce farming family of five (three sisters and a brother), Fabs studied at Springfield Flats Primary School, high schooling at Centenary High, followed by a teaching diploma from Salisbury Island with a BA and B.Ed with physical education as a career choice.
SM Jhavary Primary School was the chosen home in 1970 where he remained until emigration to Sydney, Australia. This paved the way for numerous children to realise their dreams in athletics, soccer, cricket and volleyball as the main sports codes nurtured and forwarded under the watchful eye of Mr Byrow, Sir, Teach or Fabs as he was affectionately known. Serving on the board of Natal Primary School Sports and the Springhill Sports Council, he coached football, athletics, volleyball and cricket. Mr Fabulous also arranged the zonal and inter-school sports.
He married Neruka in 1978 and was blessed with three daughters. In 1980 he attained an international football coaching course accreditation certificate from Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club.
The establishment of Clare Celtic Football Club with other community stalwarts in 1972 saw the mushrooming of young talent from the colts (under 12s) juveniles,
juniors, to the seniors in the D division, C division and Premier league.
Clare Celtic teams excelled under Byrow. 1982 saw the under13s win the KO Cup League and Clover Cup.
This was followed in 1983, with the under-14 team winning the league and KO Cup. Fabs was decorated with the honour of the entire team being selected to represent the DFA in the Southern Natal competition.
He was further honoured by three protegés entering professional football – Prem Ramlachan (Berea and Manning Rangers football club), Neil Runganathan (100 goals for Clare Celtic colts 1981, Natal schools captain and Manning Rangers, 1989) and Anand Parusnath (Manning Rangers).
Numerous players attained Natal colours – Selvan Moodley (U14 800m record, 1983 soccer), Vijay Hansraj (high jump 1981 and 1500m) and some even played at national level.
South African U21 player, Swaran Singh, remembers vividly being filled with pride as he was introduced to coaches from all over the world at a tournament in Europe and seeing the same badge he first saw on Byrow’s blazer in 1987.
Byrow inspired SM Jhavary learner, Poovindri Govender to pursue her sporting goals (South African colours, volleyball, 1990) and to pursue a career in education as a physical education teacher. Today she continues his legacy as a physical education teacher in New Zealand.
Physiotherapist, Shaheida Bassa, recalls Byrow as a mentor and coach during her primary school years (Natal colours, netball, 1987) and high school years (South African colours, volleyball, 1990).