Tim Spirit: In soccer, your memory dies with you

2013-10-09 12:00

To quote the Native American Chief Joseph: “It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.”

This month marks a year since the tragic death of former Bafana Bafana assistant coach Thomas Madigage in a car accident. We all remember the good words spoken when he died – and the broken promises.

All the big shots from the football fraternity and from government promised heaven and Earth to the Madigage family and the people of the Driekop area in Limpopo.

But a trip back to Madigage’s final resting place a year later told a different – but familiar – South African story of nondelivery.

Still no stadium site, no road or street named after Madigage, and no football academy to continue his legacy.

It’s just like the scene prior to elections, when politicians try to find a way into people’s hearts, knowing they will break them somewhere along the line.

Then again, football is run by politicians, whose only agenda is to sort out their governing bodies’ needs before responding to their constituents.

That’s if the latter even happens.

Nothing has been developed in Driekop and I bet the last time the community saw those soccer bigwigs was a year ago.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that you are only remembered when you are alive, and only those who loved you keep your memory glowing inside them.

For others, life goes on as if you never existed.

But for many, Madigage will always remain their Robin Hood, even though he did nothing illegal.

And while his legacy may live on in the hearts of the people, SA football administrators have all but consigned his memory to the rubbish dump.

Other sporting codes in the country are quick to recognise legacies left behind.

Even though SA football has a rich history, we have nothing to show for it.

It will not stop with Madigage.

The memories of Ace Ntsoelengoe and a host of other football legends have also vanished like dust in the wind.

Just last weekend, former international referee Herman Nkuna was laid to rest.

There was no mention of it and not even a moment of silence was observed during the MTN8 final.

Juxtapose this with the Springbok test at Newlands last week, where a moment of silence was observed for people who had contributed in various ways to the sport.

One of those people was former Western Province rugby boss Koos Basson, who died two weeks before the Boks’ 28-8 hammering of Australia.

That’s the degree to which the sport is attached to its ugly but colourful past. They never forget one of their own.

South African rugby may have had a divisive past but its legends live on in real ways.

Nkuna served South African football with the passion that would put many of the current officials to shame.

He may have made mistakes, but no one in this world is perfect.

If there’s one thing Madigage taught us, it’s that his was a thankless job and people will only look at the negatives and forget the positives that often outweigh the difficulties of the job.

As an assistant coach, he always tried to construct efficient machinery rather than seeking the limelight.

South African football could do with politicians like that.

SA Football Association head honchos have been too busy focusing on their election campaigns to follow through on their promises.

A year is a very long time by any reckoning, but as we know, in our society nothing gets done in such a “short” space of time.

We have learnt that administrators make promises they know they are not going to keep, and it doesn’t mean anything to them.

They just say it to keep us happy. How sad.

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