Where are they now? Local soccer legend Chippa Molatedi

21 February 2010 - 01:50 By Rafora Rangongo

The image of a jubilant Kaizer Motaung carrying a weeping Fetsi "Chippa" Molatedi on his shoulders, following yet another Amakhosi win, emphasises the player's contribution to his club

It accentuates Molatedi's role in a team brimming with talent - for Motaung rarely showed emotion in front of his players.

Kaizer Chiefs had trounced African Wanderers 3-1 at Ellis Park in the 1984 Mainstay Cup semifinal, in Molatedi's best match in Amakhosi's black and gold colours. The nippy midfielder had attended the burial of his grandmother earlier in the day and came on as a second-half substitute with Chiefs trailing 0-1.

But while Molatedi was key to winning trophies for Chiefs in the early 1980s, many of his memorable matches were the derbies between Chiefs and arch-rivals Orlando Pirates.

"The derbies were special," said Molatedi. "They were the biggest games on our calendar. It used to be a big thing, in families, schools, at work and even on trains. Unfortunately, we don't have big names any more. We have good players, but no great players. The passion and pride that came with playing in the derby is no longer there."

Now, almost two decades later, Molatedi uses the skills he acquired as a player to nurture the next generation of footballers through an organisation he founded, Legend Sports Management. He has established formal relationships with four Soweto schools to organise their sporting structures.

"The main objective is to develop soccer in schools," he said. "I am trying to recruit former professionals to work with us because, for me, this is like a social responsibility programme. I would like to groom young players and introduce them to better management.

"Soweto is our base at the moment, but I want the organisation to spread to other parts of Gauteng. We are fortunate because if you go into any township, you find somebody who has played at a higher level."

He lives in Ormonde, southern Johannesburg, with Rose, his wife of 30 years. He also runs the Ormonde Soccer Academy, where he trains about 30 young players from Xavier Reef and Ormonde View.

"We want to engage schools in friendlies and hopefully to work on a structured match and league programme involving schools in surrounding areas. It requires youngsters to work hard and be more ambitious.

"Development should be linked to schools and should start at early. We should introduce awards. Incentives motivate players to do well and improve their skills."

Molatedi, who was christened Johannes Malefetsane, turns 50 in July. With a colourful pro career that began at Moroka Swallows in January 1981, the former midfield general won many accolades. He was described as disciplined, humble, elegant and hard-working.

After he won the Mainstay Cup with the Dube Birds, who beat Witbank Aces in 1983, he asked for a transfer to Chiefs, a club he had supported as a boy. This was after Swallows' management reneged on a deal to pay bonuses at a time when he was earning R400 a month.

His move to Chiefs was controversial and dramatic. After receiving death threats, he was flown by Motaung to Durban and stayed at the Elangeni Hotel for three weeks while Amakhosi negotiated with Swallows to release him.

"It was a stressful period. Kaizer kept in touch and called every day. I couldn't move around, especially at night, because I had made a lot of enemies," said Molatedi.

The parties eventually agreed and Swallows sold him for a record R45000. The deal also involved a player swap, with Pro Pilane moving to Swallows.

Molatedi agreed to a three-year contract with a signing-on fee of R4000 and a monthly salary of R700. "For a moment I kept quiet. I thought Motaung must be rich, only to find that it was normal business practice."

He went on to play for Chiefs for 10 seasons, his best coming in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He formed a deadly partnership with Trevor "KKK" Mthimkulu and in 1984 they won every trophy on offer, including the Mainstay Cup, JPS, BP Top Eight, Sales House and the league.

Molatedi and Mthimkulu were the first players to go professional at a time when football was not regarded as a career.

But he was never the same player following a 1987 injury .

"My confidence was low and my mistake was to rush back before I was properly healed," he said. "My reflexes became very slow."

After 10 years at Chiefs he moved to Seven Stars in Cape Town and D'Alberton Callies in Durban. But his star was waning and he began coaching.

He retired in 2000 and coached in Matatiele for two seasons before returning to Johannesburg .