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Reminiscing about soccer in the village

Tribute goes to players and die-hard supporters from the ‘84 Swallows and Rovers teams, living or late. Even in the midst of the rivalry on the field, the games contributed in promoting social cohesion.

LIMPOPO -Browsing through Twitter, Facebook, radio, television and print media, soccer fanatics are lamenting lack of sporting action due to the nationwide lockdown as a result of the coronavirus  outbreak.

Lockdown Regulations introduced by the South African Government means my folks in Mohlonong village, Ga-Mashashane did not host or participate in any of the traditional Easter weekend soccer tournaments.

Reminiscing about soccer on those dusty grounds, which at times resembled a cabbage patch, I walked down memory lane. I look back at 1984 through uncle Kenneth ‘Kaiser’ Moshweu’s eye, his father and my maternal grandmother are siblings, a stone’s throw away in Mapeding village.

Kenneth ‘Kaiser’ Moshweu, former Mapeding Black Rovers FC goalkeeper, with Malesela Maubane.

One can only imagine what would be of my folks back then if there was a lockdown such as this, as soccer was a significant social outlet and one of the few in their entertainment bouquet. Apparently for some it meant a ticket to a job at a well-known dynamite factory in Modderfontein.

Uncle Kaiser played goalkeeper for Mapeding Moving Rovers FC for the longest time, his vivid recollection of a likely starting XI against Mohlonong Black Swallows those 36 years ago came in handy.

He beamed with excitement narrating that, with him gloveless between the sticks, the rest of the Moving Rovers starting XI would be: Jan ‘Super’ Seabela, Patrick ‘Botlos’ Mothapo, Elias ‘Leeu’ Mothapo, Daniel ‘Dan Good’ Manamela, Simon ‘Necro’ Manamela, Moses ‘Tornado’ Monama, Reuben ‘Chesa’ Teffo, James ‘Shaka’ Teffo, Elias ‘Harare’ Setshedi and Johannes ‘Pro’ Madiba. An interesting fact is that Harare spent the better part of his playing career at Black Swallows.

One can imagine Elias ‘Penene’ Moshweu and Moreleba ‘Ace’ Mothapo on the sidelines, itching for some action in order to demonstrate that they still had some mileage left in them. There was no time for “Ngonyawo lonwabo,” as Zama ‘ZZ’ Masondo would say on SABC Sport Zulu commentary.

Though Victor ‘Twala’ Teffo, Edwin ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu, Sello ‘Scara’ Mokonyama and Phineas ‘Sister Monica’ Sepuru were greenhorns, they went on to become vital cogs in the Moving Rovers team in the late 80s to early 90s.

In terms of a Black Swallows starting XI, uncle Kaiser relished facing a team which comprised of David Motibane, Joseph ‘Page’ Ramaoka, Kgomothi ‘Terror’ Monyamane, William ‘Botsotso’ Mogashoa, Martin ‘Nama ‘a nku’ Kgobe, Karel ‘Bushy’ Kgobe, Phineas ‘Fixana’ Legodi, Stanley ‘Lease’ Ledwaba, Alfred ‘Walk Tall’ Makhafola, Joseph ‘Chopper’ Manamela and Joseph ‘Majoza’ Ledwaba.

Martin ‘Nama ‘a Nku’ Kgobe, former Mohlonong Black Swallows FC defender, with Malesela Maubane.

A conversation with Bro Martin, was a further confirmation of the rivalry between the two teams. The rivalry spilled to our time in the amateur ranks playing near Molopeng, a giant African walnut tree. He was a tough tackling defender in the same mould as Bernard ‘Shoes’ Lushozi, erstwhile Moroka Swallows FC and Orlando Pirates FC player.

What about Frans ‘Lefty’ Manamela or Sam ‘Mirror’ Monyamane eyeing to dazzle on the field, in the team trained by the snazzy dressed Ntate Silas ‘T-Kgonono’ Monyamane!

Johannes ‘Engine’ Kgobe, Charles ‘Bashin’ Gwangwa, Isaac ‘Computer’ Ledwaba, Abram ‘Banda’ Ramaoka and Daniel ‘Doctor’ Maphapho were novices, probably watching with glee on the sidelines. As ‘Oom Dan’ Setshedi, the late SABC Sport Commentator’ would say: “Lobebe lwa kgwele ya dinao,” was on display after all!

The five went on to become key members of the Black Swallows squad in the late 80s to early 90s while Computer and Doctor also turned out for Moria Sweepers FC and Moving Rovers FC respectively.

Amid the electrifying atmosphere all round, my granduncle, Madimetja Maubane could be heard saying, “nwee“, with the 1984 Easter match ending in a 2-all draw with the winner decided on penalties. Mohlonong or Mapeding village are equally home after all!

As it was before the vuvuzela became famous, the deafening sound of a kudu horn, whistles and women ululating engulfed the sports grounds while cowbells could also be heard in the background.

Another granduncle, Lesiba ‘Mokotama’ Maubane, was also there to celebrate with his regular companions, two dogs by the names Malone and Russia.

With ‘Makarapa’ in sight, one enjoyed keeping the change after a shopping errand and their injection to the village economy was a sure thing.

Tribute goes to players and die-hard supporters from the ‘84 Swallows and Rovers teams, living or late. Even in the midst of the rivalry on the field, the games contributed in promoting social cohesion.

Pity the legendary Thobela FM Sport Commentator, Lesetja Mohlaloga was not at the 1984 Easter humdinger match “go bona le tša ngwaga wo o tlang,” for Radio Lebowa, “Mohlakamotala”. I also could not find any pictures in the archives of the two trusted photographers in the area, Ntate Esrom Monyamane and Bro Norman Shika.

Let me stop here before nostalgia gets the better of me. It is now #StayAtHome for me and my folks, as we battle the virus in extended lockdown.

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Maubane is a social commentator born and bred in Mohlonong village. You can follow him on Twitter @MaleselaB

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