Kaizer Chiefs could have easily utilised their state-of-the-art facility in Naturena to kick-start their golden jubilee festivities but the club instead revisited their roots in Phefeni, Soweto, on Tuesday to mark the start of their 50th anniversary celebrations.
The club’s founder Kaizer Motaung went down memory lane as he shared some of the club’s moments in history that dated back to five decades when he and a small group of players gathered at his modest family home to establish Chiefs on January 7 1970.
Motaung (75) used the platform to mainly pay tribute to the club’s faithful, some of whom used to be housed at the very modest structure on Sentsho Street.
“I am standing here with a well of nostalgia. This day is a special day,” said Motaung as he addressed the invited guests – mainly made up of past and present players, including the Amakhosi board members – that had filled up a marquee that overlooked his family house.
“People will ask why, instead of the [Kaizer Chiefs] village [in Naturena], we decided to come and celebrate this day here. It is because this is where it all started. Everything started in that small house [over] there. We decided to keep in touch with our roots,” said Motaung as he pointed towards the house he still regards as home.
His sister resides in the now refurbished structure that was originally in the same “match-box” design of Soweto’s four-roomed houses.
“That house has a history on its own of the people it hosted. It actually hosted almost every member of the Kaizer Chiefs family. Not only the players and officials but even [the club’s] supporters from all over the country. This place was popular. I must confess that I was very lucky because I had parents who were caring. Parents who were always willing to be part of the community and helped whenever they can, hence everyone was welcomed.
“So, at this point in time I think it’s appropriate for me to give the fans, the founding fathers who started this journey for having the courage and the will to soldier on. I always tell my management in the team, the company, that we must always show respect to the supporters because they have been behind us through and through.”
Motaung added that, as a gesture to pay homage to their multitudes of supporters, it was the reason the club had forgone the revenues from their home game against Highlands Park at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night for free entry.
“This was not purely about football but us as the people, politically we played our part when things were tough.
“Thank the supporters for having faith in us from day one until now. That is why we have decided, as a mark of gratitude to forgo the revenue from the game [against Highlands] but rather to allow people to come and celebrate with us. This is a moment of celebration.
“We thank our sponsors and partners, who have been with us through thick and thin because we needed [financial] injection for time to time to weather the storm.
“I’d also like to thank all the players, past and present, because each one of you played your part.”
Chincha Guluva, as Motaung is fondly known, also paid homage to the media for telling the story of the tradition-steeped Soweto powerhouse.
“We have too many stories to tell,” said Motaung, as he declared the official start of the first of the many series planned for this year in celebrations of the club’s five decades in existence.
“We have a series of events until the end of the year because the story cannot be told by me alone.”