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Remembering the legendary Clive Barker through the eulogy delivered by Siboniso Duma at his funeral in June

First and foremost, we wish to express our appreciation to the Barker Family for allowing the people of this country to pay their last respects to the champion of social cohesion and the unity of our people.

We can only imagine the severity of the pain that the entire family is experiencing at a loss so great that no man can heal. “The Dog”, as he was affectionately known, served the whole country with dedication until his last moment.

Ordinary members of society are wondering why he was called the “The Dog”? We recall one of his many interviews published by Kick Off Magazine last year.

He explained the story behind the nickname: “Some people say it’s for many reasons… I was on the ball a lot of times when I was a player, I just enjoyed it, but I think ‘The Dog’ name came with the Barker. There was nothing sinister to it, so it’s just that some of the players called me ‘The Dog’, and it stayed like that forever. They married the two names together—Barker and The Dog.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, messages of condolences that have been outpouring from different parts of the country and from the diplomatic community are an indication of the impact that Clive Barker made throughout his professional life as a player and a coach.

Judging by accounts given by soccer fans, soccer administrators, senior leaders in politics, government, business associates, and ordinary members of society, it is clear that the whole country has been shaken by his untimely departure.

We wish to convey our gratitude to His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa for declaring this a Special Provincial Official Funeral to symbolise the greatest honour we could bestow over a great leader of our people on his last days on earth.

We also thank the Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture.

Clive Barker deserves every honour and praise that has been showered on his mortal life.

The words that best describe the life and times of Clive Barker are written in the book. 2 Timothy Chapter 4 Verse 7 and read as follows: “…..I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith….”

Friends, Soccer Lovers and Dear Compatriots, Clive Barker was just no ordinary man.

The great tree has fallen!

We have come to pay tribute to a great son of Africa who was not only a great thinker on and off the field, but was:

A respected coach globally;

An intellectual of high calibre on and off the soccer field;

A great teacher;

And above all, the unlocker of human potential.

Over the past few days since his untimely death, we have all heard on radio, watched on TV, and read from print and social media people giving accounts of his achievements and numerous accolades.

Indeed, Clive Barker was a remarkable man, who throughout his life made outstanding achievements in soccer which would ordinarily never be combined in the career of one person.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Clive Barker used soccer as an instrument to ensure that individual soccer players and the entire nation embarked on a journey of self-discovery as we emerged from the apartheid past.

He helped the soccer players and the people of this country to learn how to maximise their personal and professional potential.

He believed in the Rainbow Nation.

He knew exactly what Tata Madiba, the first President of a democratic South Africa, wanted to achieve through soccer shortly after the 27th April 1994.

He understood that soccer had the potential to unite the people of this country after years of tension created by the apartheid regime.Compatriots, we recall that in 1957, South Africa was expelled from both CAF and FIFA. This is a period that marked the beginning of the wilderness for South African soccer players of all races.

In 1977, the Commonwealth countries, calling for an end to sporting ties with South Africa as long as apartheid continued, accepted the Gleneagles Agreement.

In December 1977 and again in December 1985, the UN accepted Resolutions Against Apartheid in Sport, and called for an end to segregated sport.

This stopped links between the countries that signed the resolution and apartheid South Africa both on a national and individual basis.

Money would not be given to a team that tried to maintain links with South Africa and action would be taken against such teams. Visas and entry documents would be denied to segregated sports teams trying to visit these countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, few years after the country’s re-admission to international sports after years of isolation, Barker led Bafana Bafana to the first ever AFCON victory in 1996.

We will never forget the moment of glory with former President Nelson Mandela appearing in international television screens donning Bafana Bafana jersey and celebrating with Clive Barker.

He went on to ensure that South Africa qualified for the FIFA World Cup.

It is almost 67 years since the end of the international sports isolation. As we are gathered here a number of South African soccer players have established themselves as international soccer stars and coaches.

They are telling the world that they were mentored by Clive Barker.

Since we achieved democracy, South African soccer fans have been on an emotional rollercoaster.

In 2010, South Africa hosted the World Cup on behalf of the continent and collectively, we rose to challenge and went far beyond expectations in hosting what is arguably one of the best World Cup tournaments in FIFA’s history and the third biggest ever, after America’s in 1994 and Germany’s in 2006.

The people of this continent—soccer administrators and football associations including CAF can today stand up tall and count themselves as an important part of the history created by this continent in 2010.

Clive Barker has been part of the making of that rich history. He has been part of the rebranding of South Africa.

Compatriots, as I draw towards conclusion, I must hasten to point out that as the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial government, we undertake to work with national government, SAFA, PSL, and other stakeholders to build on the foundation laid down by Clive Barker.

We commit to create platforms of synergies between KZN and different countries will be built and strengthened.

We will achieve that through the promotion of partnerships, and identification of opportunities for investment in soccer.

In this regard, we wish to single out international countries where South African players and coaches are located.

We want to facilitate twinning arrangements between KZN soccer clubs, academic institutions, and cities as part of creating the next generation of soccer stars and coaches.

As a way of preserving Clive Barker’s legacy, our approach as provincial government is informed by the commitment towards developing relations in order to influence and improve the environment in which soccer should be played.

Inspired by this great motivator, we are in search of the world’s best practices in improving quality of soccer. We are serious about promoting good governance and sound soccer administration across all corners of the province.

We want to help KZN-based soccer clubs and administrators to acquire extensive experience in soccer administration.

These includes the planning and implementation of training bases, community development, lease agreements, infrastructure development, media and communication, ticketing, youth academies as nurseries, and management of a reserve league.

As part of the “Clive Barker Legacy Project”, we want to arrange exchange programmes with international soccer teams. We are determined to promote collaboration and sharing of expertise in the development of specialists’ sports academies throughout the province.

The main aim is to create a skills-base in schools and townships and to put up high performance centers that will enhance the natural speed and strength of soccer stars at a very young age. We want them to have superior ball-handling skills and technical ability.

We want role-players in sport, academia, private sector, non-profit and nongovernmental organisations, government agencies, the media, the general public, as well as young people to be interested in the potential of soccer as a tool to reach personal, community, and national development objectives.

We must all use soccer as a tool for addressing some of the socio-economic challenges we are facing.

This is the greatest gift we can give to ‘The Dog’.

Fellow South Africans, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, let me reiterate our heartfelt condolences to the Barker family, kids, relatives, and friends.

We should celebrate his life well, by working harder together, to build a society founded on the values of unity, respect, and the promotion of human dignity and ubuntu.

The Barker family should take comfort in the fact that what he has left behind will live on for generations to come.

May his soul rest in peace.

I thank you.

Siboniso Duma is the Leader of Government Business and MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs.

By Editor