Fani Madida, Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG - There are few things as painful as the sight of a former superstar falling on hard times, yet this is a common tale in South African sports.

Many a previously celebrated star have died paupers with some often needing to be helped via fund-raising efforts by their former teammates or clubs and associations.

Too often this is a result of the bad decisions made by the stars during their hey-day, many of them living the typical high-life of booze, parties, fast cars and sex.

But because sport is often a short career the last years of many sports stars are usually sad.

It is thus pretty pleasing when one sees a former star living comfortably after their playing careers are done. It is even more exciting when that star is not only doing well but is also helping and uplifting communities.

Fani Madida’s standing as a legend of the South African game cannot be disputed. This after all is a man whose record of the most number of goals (34) in a domestic season, set way back in 1992, still stands.

Lest you start pointing to Collins Mbesuma’s 35 goal haul in the 2004/05 season, be reminded that the Zambian’s record included goals scored in continental competitions as well.

Back to Madida, the former Kaizer Chiefs goal poacher has established a foundation - The Didiza 34 Foundation - that seeks to ‘Uplift Communities Through Sport’.

Unlike most foundations that are generally about hosting soccer tournaments, his does much more than just get boys excited for a day playing soccer and getting playing kit and medals.

Madida believes education and sport are inextricably linked and together they can help youngsters build a bright future while avoiding the pitfalls of teenage-hood that many fall into.

To this effect, the Didiza 34 Foundation, has already made donations of laptops and computers as well as soccer kit to three schools. Sekusile High School in Madida’s hometown Newcastle, NM Tsuene High School in Garankuwa as well as Ontlametse Phalatse Primary School in Hebron have benefited already.

But Madida does not intend to stop with just these schools and last weekend he hosted a gala dinner aimed at not only introducing the Foundation but to also raise funds.

A former superstar who played not only for Chiefs but was the first South African to play in Turkey and blazed the trail for many others to follow afterwards thanks to his brilliant scoring prowess for Besiktas.

At the dinner, Madida auctioned a number of his jerseys - the show-stopper among those being the one he wore in the 1992 Castle Challenge final in which he scored the winning goal in Chiefs’ 2-1 win over arch-rivals Orlando Pirates. That jersey sold for R110 000.

He also sold his Besiktas and Ajax Cape Town jerseys while Percy Tau donated his Club Brugges jersey and Sifiso Hlanti gave them his Bafana jersey he wore at the recent Afcon to sell. Mark Fish’s jersey from when he played for Lazio in the Serie A was also auctioned.

There were also a few other jerseys - notably from Liverpool and Sporting Lisbon - that Didiza exchanged with some players during his playing days.

Granted he will always be remembered for his scoring prowess at Chiefs. But the young generation - like his son who apparently had no idea of daddy’s great achievement and the kids at all those three schools - will one day remember him as the man who ensured they had access to computers for the first time. A man who helped them get their education on track and gave them a chance at a better life.

Fani Madida, the legend. And one who is not going to ask for handouts but one who will go down having used his success for the betterment of others.

Matshelane Mamabolo

@Tshiliboy


The Star