De Sa defends Ajax over Lolo
Posted: 10 November 2015 Time: 12:05 pm
Ajax Cape Town coach Roger de Sa has expressed his anger at reports about the club’s attendance at Cecil Lolo’s funeral and insists Ajax are doing everything they can to support Lolo’s family.
The Cape Town club has been the target of criticism for the fact that Ajax players did not attend Lolo’s funeral in the village of Chebe in Centane in the Eastern Cape.
De Sa is disappointed about the way the media has handled the story and angry about accusations that Ajax blocked players from attending the funeral.
The Urban Warriors coach explains the logistics of what happened in an interview with Neal Collins on his blog.
“Neal, all this ‘we didn’t care about Lolo’ is pure bullshit. Let me start at the beginning,” De Sa says.
“The day he died. Devastating. We didn’t know what to do. We sit with the family. Three little kids from two moms who live with his mother. The player has no insurance, nothing whatsoever. No funeral plan. Nothing. So our chairman Ari Efstathiou says we’ll provide an educational trust for the kids, least we can do.
“Then let’s look after the family. His mother and other people he looked after. About eight of them. We have to look after them too. Help them recover from Cecil’s death, they all lived off his money.
“But for the kids (a daughter of six months, two boys of 5 and 8), let’s get a proper education. No company would do that, you know that Neal. We are doing everything we can here...
“Then we retire the number 21. His shirt. We’ll never use it again ... We name a stand after him ... Then there’s the memorial service in Khayalitsha, his base, his place, where he lived with his family.
“That’s followed (last Friday) by a memorial service for all supporters at our base, Ikamva. And yes, all of our players were involved in both memorials, they said their farewells, they cried, they cared.
“We are always in contact with the family, said we’ll help with funeral arrangements. They wanted to go somewhere remote in Eastern Cape. That wasn’t ideal for us but we had to respect it. We paid coffin, funeral, food, in the region of R50,000.
“We do all that. The one thing I don’t like thinking, and Ari is too scared to say, is everyone is saying the club stopped the players from going. That’s bullshit. I went. Last training session was Saturday morning, next one was today (Monday). We’d never stop anyone from going.
“They’re trying to say the club stopped people from going. That is not true. Some Chippa United players went, they were local. But there was nobody from the PSL, SAFA, no other club. For me to get there, I left at 6am got home after 11pm. How do you expect everybody to get there?
“It was a real trip. First we flew from Cape Town to East London, drove to Butterworth 120km. I thought that was it but then there was the drive to the village (Chebe in Centane).
“Neal, you’re English. You've got no idea, a dust road for about 50km, not even a 4x4 can go on that thing, we crossed river, water, rocks. And all of it in an Avis rental car, it must be buggered.
“We managed to get there 12h30, the funeral had started, we already told the mother we’d be late, she respected that.
“We were there. Listened to a couple of speeches. Then the minister started the real thing. Coffin was carried, Cecil was buried. After that we had to leave, needed three hours to get back to airport. We spoke to the father and the mother. We did everything we could...”
“Ari is trying to protect the players, obviously they didn’t go. No player came and asked to come because they knew where it was.
“Two memorial services, armbands, minute’s silence, we even stopped the match to clap in the 21st minute. All these things were done. Lolo’s seat is empty in the dressing room with flowers on it. We’re going to put a picture up. We respected his culture...
“Cecil was ‘The Real Warrior’ to me. We had a very good relationship. I was devastated. It only sank in when I got to the parent’s home in the morning. It hit me.
“You go through it, feel every tear, yet here people are lying about players not being allowed to attend the funeral. What kind of story is that?”