Harsh realities of life after football come under scrutiny at Bafana legend Masinga's memorial service

21 January 2019 - 17:10
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Bafana Bafna legend Philemon Masinga.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix Bafana Bafna legend Philemon Masinga.

The crippling uncertainty and the financial difficulties that South African players often face after their playing days are over once again came under the spotlight at the memorial service of Bafana Bafana legend Phil "Chippa" Masinga in Soweto on Monday.

The 49-year-old Masinga lost a long battle with cancer a week ago.

Several speakers at the Grace Bible Church in Pimville‚ Soweto‚ called on former players to unite and start working on programmes to help them live comfortably at the end of their playing careers.

The many speakers also asked government and leaders in football to help set up these programmes to ensure that players do not keep falling on hard times when they retire.

In response to the many pleas to provide assistance to former players‚ South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan agreed to meet all the sport's stakeholders next Tuesday to further the complicated discussion.

"We had the same discussions when (Bafana legend) John "Shoes" Moshoeu died (on April 21‚ 2015 and also from cancer) and we are talking again now‚" Jordaan said.

"We can't continue talking about something this important and not act.

"We must sit around the table and have a proper discussion.

"I know it is a complex issue that involves many things but we must start somewhere.

"Football is a short career and we must find ways of how we deal with this issue so that our players are well looked after when they retire."

Gauteng sports MEC Faith Mazibuko echoed the many speakers who took to the podium and also suggested that one significant landmark in the North West should be named after Masinga.

Masinga's long-time friend Monty Kekana urged former players and administrators to use this opportunity to address this contentious issue.

"There has been a lot of talk for a long time about this issue but nothing has happened‚" said Kekana to thunderous applause at Grace Bible Church.

"The time has come that everyone must sit around the table and find ways of negotiating around this complicated matter.

"I know that somehow players are complicit in this unfortunate situation that they find themselves in but we have to find a solution."

Masinga's erstwhile Bafana team-mates Daniel "Mambush" Mudau‚ Lucas "Rhoo" Radebe and Mark Fish also called for unity among former players.

"This is a call for all the former players to come together and talk about how to deal with this‚" said Mudau.

"I am lucky to have a salary at Mamelodi Sundowns but what about the many players who can't find work.

"It is time we find a solution because it can't be business as usual."

Fish urged the current Bafana Bafana squad to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as a tribute to Masinga.

"He dedicated most of his adult life to Bafana Bafana and the best way for the current generation is to pay tribute to him by qualifying for Afcon‚" said Fish.

Masinga was born on June 28, 1969 in Klerksdorp in the North West and played for various clubs including Mamelodi Sundowns‚ Jomo Cosmos‚ Leeds United in England‚ Saint Galliens in Switzerland‚ FC Bari and Salernitana in Italy.

The North West provincial government also confirmed on Monday that Masinga has been granted an official Provincial Category A funeral.

The funeral will be held at Khuma Stadium in Stilfontein on Thursday.