Tournament named after stalwart

2017-07-12 06:00
Thomas DithebePhoto: Supplied

Thomas DithebePhoto: Supplied

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Football administrator Thomas Dithebe (80) has received recognition for his immense role in the development of the sport.

The South African Football Association (Safa) Mangaung has launched a youth development initiative named after him, the Thomas Dithebe Tournament.

The competition is for boys’ teams, u.13, u.15 and u.17.

It is played on a knockout basis to determine the winners in the respective categories.

The tournament exclusively clubs features within the greater Bloemfontein affiliated to Safa structures.

The tournament will climax on 22 July.

On this Saturday, the participa-ting teams will compete in the final round to be crowned the inaugural champions in the three age categories.

Having a tournament named after Dithebe, recognising his role while alive, is the most notable recognition.

This is the opinion of Lucas Matobako, chairperson of Safa Mangaung.

“He has seen all in the transformation of football and mentored some of us.

“His expertise comes with the organisation of football, encoura-ging the formation of teams,” said Matobako.

Dithebe’s role includes the formation of the Football Association of Bloemfontein (FAB), serving with the likes of Matobako, Pule Pitso, Klip Moremi and Shuping Seboko.

Dithebe receives the honour for his exemplary service to football development, dating back to the 1960s in Bloemfontein.

He is the only surviving member who served in the two erstwhile football federations in the 1960s.

Dithebe served in the African Football Association (AFA) which was a direct competitor to the Bantu Football Association (BFA).

These were to two main federations in Bloemfontein, Dithebe explained.

“The two opposing federations later joined forces to unify football in the greater Bloemfontein.

“This was under tough circumstances due to the challenge the AFA had with the opposition BFA’s predominantly white members.

“The gist was not the playing of the game, but had to do with the name of Africans, which was unpopular.

“Members of the AFA body were pushed to some extent to join the others and unify football.

“There is never a smooth path in transforming football or any sport.

“Challenges are meant to build courage among us.

“Those having it smooth are most probably destroying,” said Dithebe.

Dithebe was also at in the forefront to unify two associations in Bloemfontein in the mid 1990’s.

Those were the Heidedal Football Association, once led by the stalwart and community builder Clive Solomon, and the other one was the FAB, which Dithebe had led as president before retiring in the late 1990’s.

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