Leadership in sport

The echoes of heroes forever remembered

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The year 2019, or at least the first three months thereof, will be largely remembered on a positive note in terms of what has happened on the football pitch. The Premier Soccer League (PSL) is in the midst of a title race that will be spoken about for years to come, while Bafana Bafana recently produced an impressive away performance, beating Libya and in so doing, ensuring qualification for the African Cup of Nations, which is taking place in Egypt this June.

Unfortunately, amidst the jubilation and positivity, the South African football community has also had to stop, take stock and celebrate the lives of two footballers who passed away this year.

Most recently, Arthur Bartman sadly passed away at the age of 46 after a few months of battling meningitis. Bartman served all his clubs with distinction and was earmarked for big things when he burst onto the scene at African Wanderers in the late 90s. Much like any sportsperson, there will be ups and downs during a career, but Bartman took it all in his stride.

He was the journeyman of South African football, which is not a tag with any negative connotation. Representing eight clubs is no mean feat and the fact that so many clubs were willing to take him on board speaks volumes about his professionalism. However, he was not only a player.

Post-retirement, he turned to coaching and he looked to have a bright future, were it not for his untimely death. The outcry of support and social media messages is a testament to the man that Bartman was. His family have subsequently thanked the public for their support and also issued a statement to raise more awareness about meningitis.

Bartman will be remembered for a great career that spanned almost two decades but for those close to him, he will be remembered as a family man, friend, husband and father.

Farewell Arthur.

Philemon ‘Chippa’ Masinga

The news that Philemon ‘Chippa’ Masinga had passed away in mid-January this year shocked the nation. Social media was abuzz as condolences rolled in from around the globe—it became clear just how much impact Masinga had made during his travels.

Masinga gave the country moments it will remember for years to come. Perhaps the impact of those moments has been lost a bit over time but for those of us who were around at the time, they will live on forever.

In 1996, Masinga, or Chippa as he was fondly known, was part of the 1996 team that lifted the African Cup of Nations trophy and, again, when they finished as runners-up in the 1998 tournament. But, without a doubt, Masinga’s moment came in 1997 when his right-footed pile-driving shot into the top corner of the net sent Bafana Bafana to the 1998 FIFA World Cup for the first time in its history.

Those iconic scenes still play in many people’s minds as if it happened yesterday: Masinga running down on goal, one defender to beat, but he shoots from distance and it flies past the Congolese goalkeeper. The crowd goes into a frenzy, could this be, could we be heading to the FIFA World Cup? The Coach at the time, Clive Barker, sprints down the touchline, arms spread wide in the form of aeroplane wings as if he is flying the team to France (where the World Cup was hosted in 1998) himself.

Again, unforgettable scenes.

Masinga began his career at Jomo Cosmos after the South African legend, Jomo Sono, spotted his talent. A move soon materialised to Mamelodi Sundowns before heading overseas to Leeds United. Although his time there wasn’t long, he and the Bafana Bafana Captain, Lucas Radebe, became instant hits.

The Leeds United faithful nicknamed him ‘Waltzing Masinga’ after the famous song, ‘Waltzing Matilda’. Based on the comments post his death, he was held in very high regard by the club and its supporters. His Leeds United stint was followed by a move to Italy where he played for Serie B side, Salernitana. Soon, he caught the attention of Serie A side, Bari, and made another switch.

Masinga was also part of the ambassador list for the South African World Cup Bid for 2010.

Cancer might have defeated the big man but here, he will always be remembered. His exploits, along with those of his teammates, ensured that South Africa participated in the FIFA World Cup in 1998 for the first time in our history. 16 August 1997 will always be known as one of the greatest moments in South African football and that was largely due to Philemon ‘Chippa’ Masinga, or if you will, Waltzing Masinga. 

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