This afternoon was another memorable day. Old players and administrators from the SA Football Federation (FPL) met to discuss how they can recuperate the memory of their struggles for building non-racial sport in South Africa. The coordinating committee of SA Fed Legends, led by some able administrators from yester year – Don Mudaly and K Pops Chetty, the current chairperson of the iniative which was established in Kwazulu Natal in 2007 -, had come to Johannesburg, Gauteng to form its provincial structure. They are building up towards a national meeting after visiting all provinces where the FPL had some foothold.
Alan Moonsammy, Virgil Padiachee, Smiley Moosa and a number of ex-players were present to support the able adminstrators such as Billa Singh, Kokie Singh, Boetie Eshack and others in this endeavour. Community radio East Wave promised to host talk shows and explore a dinner dance to celebrate the heroes of non racialism.
The draft constitution lists some of the objectives as follows:
To unite, give recognition and support to players and officials of the South African Soccer League and the Federation Professional League from 1960 to 1990.
_ To render moral and physical support, counselling and aid to families and of players who may need assistance.
_ To unite players and officials of the SASL and FPL from 1960 to 1990.
_ To give recognition and honour to the players and officials who fought for the cause of non racial soccer.
_ To encourage and promote the spirit and camaraderie among The Legends through sporting, recreation and social activities.
The Legends initiatve agreed to form a Trust to support ex-players of non-racialism that are in need. To date the organisation has assisted former Verulam star Vasu Chetty who is now a paraplegic, by providing him with a wheel chair, and have also donated a buffing machine to his former teammate, Valiant Alley, who lost a foot due to illness. It is hoped that he will be able to have greater mobility throught their assistance.
I attended the reunion and loved meeting some of my heroes of yester year.
“You guys have nothing to be apologetic about”, I said to Smiley Moosa, who had to play white turning up for Berea Park to show off his skills as a skilful player. Essop was not white but he was fair in colour and just in spirit. I told these comrades that they fought the good fight, and “if we are fighting to recuperate the memory in politics of men (and mostly women) who have been written out of history, it is fighting the good fight to be recognised because you guys rid the sport of the politics of hate and exclusion”. To the peace time warriors of today, I say you cannot obliterate the contribution of these stalwards from our minds, even if you try to keep it out of public debate.