The third of February marked the 20th anniversary of South Africa winning the coveted African Cup of Nations, but sadly some of the heroes like Sizwe Motaung, John Moshoeu and Fanie Molapo were not here to reminisce on the milestone.
The question is would these men and other heroes of 1996 ever be honoured in the country of their birth? Will we at least see a street named after one of the 1996 heroes?
It is too much to expect because these men spent only three weeks to bring glory to South African football. Imagine those who have spent their lives on the game of billions but are always overlooked.
Among us there are such men who dedicated their lives to football. They sacrificed their lives for football. They have exposed their families to football and to us football lovers who are never satisfied with their decisions.
One such gentleman is Mr Kaizer Motaung. ‘Chincha Guluva’ deserves the honour of having FNB Stadium named after him. When the naming rights of FNB come to an end, there is no need to scratch our head on what to call the iconic calabash lookalike facility.
We cannot deny the fruit of freedom brought by the struggle freedom fighters, but they too have the institutions that can honour them. Football must honour footballers, no compromise, no favours.
Dr Molemela Stadium is soothing awakening to normalising and taking charge of our own heroes. A step taken by Bloemfontein Celtic to give such honour to Mr Molemela is admirable and should unashamedly be followed by those with sober minds.
That is a practice that is found around the self-respecting nations. In Spain, Real Madrid calls Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, named after their illustrious former player, their homeground.
The powerhouses of Milan, AC and Internazionale, alternate weekly to play at the hallowed stadium officially known as Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, which when called San Siro will ring a bell to many.
Kaizer Motaung is not a lightweight when it comes to football. When he ‘reluctantly’ formed Kaizer Chiefs after the success of Kaizer XI, he changed the landscape of football in South Africa, particularly among the African segregated associations.
There is no denying that Kaizer ‘Boy-boy’ Motaung professionalised or helped exceedingly in professionalising the game. When he established Kaizer Chiefs, he registered it as business entity. At the time football was a while-away-time activity, a social exercise where the majority of the community debriefed from the maladies engulfing the nation.
He has been running he football club with immaculate professionalism, with his success rubbing off other teams who followed suit.
Motaung has changed how football is run, while Irvin ‘Squveve’ Khoza changed how it is sponsored. Khoza gave teams muscle in terms of acquiring revenue and how sponsors should value them. Eish, I digressed … the Buccaneer in me.
Following the 1996 success, Motaung was also selfless and bold in agreeing to the establishment of Premier Soccer League (PSL). The league is a mixed bag of success, but the likes of Chiefs and Pirates have helped other teams to generate income for themselves.
When the idea was mooted to build Soccer City, Motaung was there. When an idea occurred to Solomon Morewa in 1994 to bid for World Cup hosting rights, Motaung was there. Is Motaung a perfect human being? The answer is no, but which mortal is perfect?
Politics aside, I look forward to the day I go to Nasrec and enter Kaizer Motaung Football Arena, to watch the team that built him and the team he built.