Football figure remembered

2017-04-05 06:03
Footballers who were privileged to work with Dr R.P. Molemela, has paid tribute. From the left are Jeffrey Lekgetla (former captain), Abram Ace Sempe (founding captain), Joseph “Chippa” Sefali (former player and coach) and Shuping “Tiger” Seboko (ex-coach).Photo: Teboho Setena

Footballers who were privileged to work with Dr R.P. Molemela, has paid tribute. From the left are Jeffrey Lekgetla (former captain), Abram Ace Sempe (founding captain), Joseph “Chippa” Sefali (former player and coach) and Shuping “Tiger” Seboko (ex-coach).Photo: Teboho Setena

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The football and business world came together in Bloemfontein to pay tribute to Dr Rantlai Molemela after the well-known figure had passed away on 26 March.

He died due to unidentified illness.

Large photos of Molemela were displayed prominently in the St John’s Methodist Church where Molemela’s memorial was held on Friday (31/03). He was a member of this church.

Mourners praised him for his invaluable role in society. They said they shared in the great loss and wished the family much strength.

Tributes came from different sectors of society, including politicians.

Patricia Kopane, DA leader in the Free State, paid homage.

“Ntate Molemela lived for soccer. His best achievement was turning Bloemfontein Celtic into a powerhouse on the South African footballing scene. He was a sporting administrator ahead of his time.

“His foresight enabled him to turn Celtic into a full-time professional outfit. It was under his stewardship that the football club, for the first time, was able to recruit football players from other African countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique.

“He was a true pioneer in the professionalisation of football ­administration in South Africa. His contributions and dedication to building football as sport in the country, and his ability to bring people of diverse backgrounds ­together, will solely be missed.”

Free State MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation, Mathabo Leeto, also paid tribute.

“Dr Molemela’s legacy is that of a national treasure in our society, who dedicated most of his life towards identifying and nurturing young talent and as an astute business person.

“Even posthumously, he remains a key figure from which we can draw lessons on how to utilise sport to foster social cohesion and nation building. He passes on at a time when we are striving towards realising these ideals as stipulated in the National Development Plan.

“The people of the Free State shall forever be indebted to the Molemela family, especially because of the legacy left behind by Dr Molemela.”

Obakeng “Bucks” Molatedi said: “Football has lost its father. Ntate Molemela was passionate about football. When he bought Bloemfontein Celtic, he changed our stereotype of tie and jacket by introducing his trademark gowns and hat.

“He was hands-on as a club owner. He was generous to football in general and we used his bus to travel to tournaments as if it was the association’s own. We will miss him. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

Shuping Seboko, former coach of Celtic, and now Safa president in the Mangaung Region, used a metaphor to express Molemela’s influence.

“The old man was like a candle to us that shared its flame with other candles that lit in the process. By that I mean the old man touched many of us and changed our lives. Some of us got professions, some got life skills lessons and so on.

“He made an impact in football development – largely with players, coaches, administrators, fans and followers. Noting that he also was brave enough to recruit school boys, the likes of Ishmael “Litre” Mokitlane, Benjamin Reed and Lucas “Maradona” Skhosana to sign with Celtic during the 1980’s. He did a lot.

“The memory to of the days when fans took to the streets of Bloemfontein, cut off tree branches and waved them as flags in celebration of the historic win of the Mainstay Cup in 1985, still lingers and it was due to Ntate Molemela’s effort of bringing a prestigious cup home to Bloemfontein when many had thought it im­possible.”

Abram Sempe said that Molemela inspired in different ways, striving to do well and to never give up.

“As a cyclist, ntate Molemela was very influential getting me to exercise to keep fit and that still remains with me.

“I have worked with him for many years and his humanity and hard work stand out.”

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