Troubled times put a damper on Kaizer Chiefs’ anniversary celebrations
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Cape Town — Kaizer Chiefs should be in celebrations mode as it marks the 52nd anniversary, but instead, it is shaping up for a bruising battle with its parent body, the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
Last month, the PSL refused a request by Chiefs to postpone matches after some 40 people (players and technical staff) were laid low by the coronavirus pandemic. Initially, after Chiefs made the request, the PSL failed to respond, and Chiefs failed to fulfil two fixtures.
It would seem as if the PSL were bent on awarding 3-0 walk-overs to Chiefs' opponents, but lately, PSL supremo Ivan Khoza said the matter is far complex, and the ball has landed in the court of the PSL's legal division.
Over the weekend Kaizer Motaung paid tribute to the generations of supporters who have helped Chiefs become the most decorated club in South African football history.
Motaung who was once described as the "eyes and ears of South African football' when the Pickard Commission of Enquiry was in progress, was the founder of the club. It was formalised in January 1970. The team initially played as a Kaizer XI in 1969 when a handful of players broke away from Orlando Pirates.
After starting in 1970, the club won its first league title in 1974, when it lifted the National Professional Soccer League's (NPSL) league trophy. Despite playing only a few matches, Motaung was the leading goalscorer with 13 goals. He spent most of the year playing for Denver Dynamos in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Motaung reflected on its humble beginnings and said at the outset he had a "burning desire to be part of a great thing" at a time when few people believed the club would survive.
“This is a day that will be remembered long after we have left. It is a great day indeed, the day this baby was born to bring some excitement to the entire football community," said Motaung.
"To me, it is one of the greatest days ever in my sporting life, when we started this beautiful organisation called Kaizer Chiefs.
“When we started, we had a lot of sceptics. They thought we were maybe not serious, and that we were taking a chance. Little did they know that some of us had this burning desire to be part of a great thing. Great in the sense that we wanted it to be something South African people could be proud of.
"I must say I’m feeling very vindicated. Some said we wouldn’t even last one season. The reason we succeeded is that we understood this was an enormous challenge. It required our 110 per cent commitment, which meant we had to invest our whole lives in this beautiful brand, which we did.
“Our exercise was not one in futility and one we can be very proud of. Today every third person you meet out there is a Kaizer Chiefs follower. It just shows the magnitude of this brand and what it means to people. This brand has had a very serious influence on the lives of many people in this country. We are still confronted with many challenges.
"Getting where we are was not easy, but we were determined to succeed and achieve what we set out to do.
“I do hope with the new up and coming generations this will continue in leaps and bounds and that they will understand the history of this brand and understand where it comes from. Hence, they will have to know its significance. It is a brand about the people, not individuals.
"We are here to serve the people and I’m happy that I’ve served people for so long, with the help of those around us who have been part of this journey.
“The club’s birthday is a day I hold very dear to my heart. We are celebrating another birthday this year, as the world continues to battle the unprecedented global Covid pandemic.
“As we continue with the journey, we are now in a very new environment in terms of what has befallen the world. Covid-19 has hit us very heavily.
"When it started, we were aiming to celebrate our 50th anniversary and things looked very bright until Covid hit us. We had to play under difficult conditions and could not end our 50th year with the league trophy, which was in our hands until the last 30 minutes of the season.
“Just recently we had an outbreak which was unprecedented in the country, where we had over 50 people affected, and which rendered us inactive.
"We could not play two games because we had to shut down the Village. We can never forget what has happened to us because of the pandemic, and we extend our deepest condolences to those who left us, in all different sections of society, who became victims of this pandemic.
“I wish to thank God for his blessings, for having given us the strength and wisdom for us to continue to serve people and make people happy."