'Man of the people' is living his dream

19 June 2016 - 02:00 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU

If there is an East Rander who prides himself on roots and does not forget about where he comes from, it is veteran football administrator Sinky Mnisi. He knows the South African game inside out and to say he knows Thembisa like the back of his hand is an understatement.While he is rejoicing in his role as Highlands Park director, Mnisi said his association with the club saved his life when he was hijacked in Olifantsfontein in October last year."When I was hijacked, football played a role in saving me. When the hijackers drove around with me, the hijackers started asking each other if I'm Sinky Mnisi who is involved with football. I said yes.story_article_left1When they asked which team I'm involved with, I showed them my Highlands Park business card. They then said: 'Let's leave this guy, ngumuntu wabantu lo (He's a people's person)'.""That's when I knew that God is on my side. And when we achieved PSL promotion, that's when I felt that it was mission accomplished."Mnisi has been involved with various PSL clubs - Thembisa Classic, Jomo Cosmos and Dynamos being the high-water marks of his time in the game.With Classic being the one team that resonated with the Makhulong Stadium, they still hold a special place in his heart.Their demise, which led to the re-establishment of Maritzburg United in 2007, is still a source of pain for him.When Benoni Premier United sold their franchise to National First Division outfit Thanda Royal Zulu at the end of the 2006/07 season, the East Rand was left without a PSL outfit.block_quotes_start All the effort I had put in with the club went out of the window and that was hard to swallow block_quotes_endWhile Cosmos earned their promotion in Thembisa two seasons ago, they played their home games in Potchefstroom this past season."The selling of Classic to Maritzburg United was one of the saddest things that I've experienced in football. All the effort I had put in with the club went out of the window and that was hard to swallow," Mnisi said.Highlands Park seems to have given him a new lease on life, especially with how badly the Roses United deal fell through two years ago. He does not hide the fact his knowledge of his hometown plays a role in the big crowds they have a attracted this past season."I've seen it all in football and we will fill the void that has been left by Thembisa Classic. Thembisa people understand me and they know what I'm capable of. We did things with Classic and they came up from nothing, and they filled up the stadium. Highlands Park was a white-owned team that now plays in the township. I was behind that," Mnisi said."Having fulltime professional football is something the people of Thembisa have been craving for a long time and the promotion hasn't quite yet sunk in for me. I cried on Wednesday when Peter scored the second goal. I was remembering where I was coming from."..

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