“He was a messenger to the world community that indeed South Africa was free, that South Africa was charting a path to a normal society, and this was after years of international community boycott, after an intense lobby by the South African Council on Sport that ‘No normal sport in an abnormal society’.”
That was how Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa described the impact of Phil Masinga at his funeral at Khuma Stadium, Stilfontein in the North West on Thursday.
The former Bafana Bafana striker, who passed away aged 49 on January 13 after a long battle with cancer, will be best remembered for his pile-driver from outside the box against the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) that qualified the national team for the 1998 Fifa World Cup.
“I think all of us can attest that Phil Masinga was a phenomenal ambassador of our country and the beautiful game. Phil Masinga placed his life in the service of our country and served our country with distinction,” Xasa said at the funeral.
“Phil Masinga was an international footballer, he was a messenger to the world community that indeed South Africa was free, that South Africa was charting a path to a normal society, and this was after years of international community boycott, after an intense lobby by the South African Council on Sport that ‘No normal sport in an abnormal society’.
“This became a rallying call for the international community to boycott colonial apartheid sport.
“Therefore, Phil Masinga, together with some of his teammates who played internationally, became a critical voice and an amplifier of the Rainbow Nation we were constructing as people, that finally South Africa will belong to all those who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people.”
Xasa highlighted Masinga’s presence as a member of the Bafana class of 96 that clinched the Africa Cup of Nations.
Of course, the former Mamelodi Sundowns target-man also carried the flag with aplomb at Leeds United in England, as well as clubs in Italy and Switzerland.
“Phil Masinga belongs to that generation that assured us that we are South Africans united in our diversity, as football supporters we responded by cheering them on as true representatives of our aspiration as people,” she said.
“When they lifted that trophy in 1996 we collectively said, ‘We won, South Africa won’.
“Today, we are here to say farewell to one of the gallant fighters, we are here to bare testimony to his greatness. Phil Masinga was a true representative of our nation across the world, he carried our flag high with pride.
“Phil Masinga represented a true spirit of South African-ness, and he is an embodiment of South African opportunity and a true inspiration to the future of South Africa’s youth.
“He has risen from the background of poverty and made it on a world stage, and proved that with freedom and democracy as well as equal opportunity, every young person can perform to the best of their ability on a world stage.”
In that regard, Xasa announced that the Department of Sport and Recreation will train 100 former footballers and other sportspeople to become coaches within Sascoc’s Coaching Framework through the Sport Coaches Outreach (SCORE) programme.
Other soccer personalities who attended on Thursday – which was a special provincial category 2 funeral – include Jomo Sono, Doctor Khumalo, Safa president Danny Jordaan, PSL chairman Irvin Khoza.
Masinga is survived by his wife Ntombi, children Sifiso, Tinyiko, Tatyana, Buhle and Thubelihle, and brothers Meshack and Enerst.@ashfakmohamed