Football tie-up plan

2009-12-23 00:00

WELSH-BASED South African activist Haniff Bhamjee is brokering a potential partnership between English League Championship team Cardiff City and Maritzburg United.

Bhamjee, a recipient of the OBE and brother of uMgungundlovu Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee, was in Pietermaritzburg yesterday to present an autographed ball and Cardiff City jersey to the United management as part of an ongoing process to establish a partnership between the teams.

Formerly the secretary of the Wales Anti-apartheid Movement, which, post-democracy, has become the Action for Southern Africa movement, Bhamjee presented a signed United ball and jersey to Cardiff City in October.

Bhamjee, who has lived in the UK since going into exile in 1965, is a Cardiff City supporter and has been dealing with the manager of Cardiff Stadium, Wayne Nash, to establish a partnership. He said the former Welsh Labour politician and leader of the opposition, Neil Kinnock, has also been part of the effort.

“Nothing is set in stone yet — it’s an ongoing process to try to establish links between the two clubs with a view to regular visits by either side, coaching exchanges and youth team exchanges,” Bhamjee said.

Cardiff City have a long history of being part of the anti-apartheid movement in Wales and are interested in partnering a South African club. Both teams also play in royal blue.

“Cardiff and Pietermaritzburg are quite similar cities with similar city halls. The British established in KwaZulu-Natal and there is a strong connection between Wales and Maritzburg.”

Maritzburg United chairman Farouk Kadodia said: “Maritzburg United was launched in the anti-apartheid era and joined the [all-Indian and coloured] Federation Professional League, which had key figures in Maritzburg such as Norman Middleton and Hassan Howa — who pushed for integrated football leagues. So we see Cardiff as an ideal potential partner.”

United development head Katz Naidoo said a partnership with Cardiff could help the Pietermaritzburg club improve its development and administrative structures, and involve coaching courses, youth team exchanges and pre-season tours to each city by both clubs.

Cardiff are currently lying fourth in the English League Championship (first division).

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