Swallows FC, an ambitious project led by Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi to resurrect Moroka Swallows, carries the flag and hopes of the Dube Birds, even though they aren’t the real deal.
The amateur club use a different badge and different name as they haven’t acquired the naming rights of the Soweto giants and they don’t want to inherit the debt that saw the original Swallows get relegated from the Premiership and the National First Division in successive seasons.
It’s a painful past that those associated with the club will like to forget this afternoon. Those who want to cling to the glorious past will welcome the return of their “Swallows” to the big stage as Swallows FC take on Maritzburg United at Dobsonville Stadium this afternoon in the Nedbank Cup last 32.
Moroka Swallows was the second name to be etched into this trophy after they won it in 2009. That victory saw them become the first team to win this trophy under its four different guises, as the Nedbank Cup, Absa Cup, Bob Save Super Bowl and Mainstay Cup.
Isaac Mphasane, coach of Swallows FC, was 19 when the Dube Birds won the Mainstay Cup for the first time in 1983. The 43-year-old coach is 27 years younger than the Dube Birds, but what he lacks in experience, he makes up in enthusiasm and drive.
“I was working and I decided quit my job to focus on the game that I love,” Mphasane said.
“I was working in Vereeniging. We were doing welded mesh, razor fence and barbed wire. I told myself, ‘Isaac, why don’t you go and do what you love because this isn’t it’.
“I had a team at that time that was playing in the Super League. That team had Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17. That team produced four players who are now at the School of Excellence.”
Mphasane continued: “I told my wife (Joyce) that I want to quit my job and focus on football. Back then I was doing different shifts. I quit three years ago. I was tired all the time after work and I couldn’t be myself at training. My wife supported me. Each and every game she is there with my children (Lerato and Katlego).
“The support they give me means a lot to me and I think that they can see that I have a bright future. I just want to make them proud by going far and I see myself coaching in the PSL.”
Mphasane played football professionally for Black Leopards and Silver Stars before hanging up his boots. He led Swallows FC to five wins in the qualifying round to reach this stage.
This could be the start of big things to come for the club, with reports that Lesufi and his backers have purchased the status of NFD side Cape Town All Stars.
That would see Swallows FC leave the amateur ranks and compete in the NFD next season.
Mphasane didn’t want to say if he would be the right man to manage the side in the professional ranks but he is confident he is the right man to heal the wounds of Swallows fans who watched a great institution crumble.
“It’s a difficult task. The Swallows name is big. But what I am going to tell you is that I will do my best to bring this team up.
“I know that there are people (who support this team) who have diabetes and high blood pressure. Maybe Isaac Mphasane is going to make a difference for those supporters.”