Tim Sukazi: Domestic football’s modern-day Ntate Molemela

TS Galaxy players lift club boss Tim Sukazi as they celebrate their historic win over Kaizer Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup final in Durban last weekend. Picture: Muzi Ntombela /BackpagePix
TS Galaxy players lift club boss Tim Sukazi as they celebrate their historic win over Kaizer Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup final in Durban last weekend. Picture: Muzi Ntombela /BackpagePix

The sweet success story of TS Galaxy is as colourful as the club’s owner. The youthful boss takes Daniel Mothowagae inside the rising force in local football

It’s barely a week since TS Galaxy caused one of the biggest upsets in local football history, and the exhaustion showing on the face of the club’s owner is a clear sign of the hangover in the aftermath of the Nedbank Cup triumph.

Tim Sukazi, an attorney by profession, was preoccupied by the almost unending celebrations of Galaxy’s victory over Kaizer Chiefs in the final of the Ke Yona competition in Durban last Saturday.

He had just reported back for duty when he welcomed City Press to his law firm’s plush offices in Sandton, northern Johannesburg, for a sit-down interview on Wednesday afternoon.

To indicate that he was wearing a different cap this time around, he was not wearing his custom-made straw hat bearing colourful Ndebele prints, which has become a big part of Galaxy’s match days.

The Nedbank Cup trophy was also nowhere to be seen at Tim Sukazi Inc, where he is the founding partner.

Instead, his spacious office was littered with law journals and other documents.

The late Petrus Molemela is best remembered for adding colour to local football

The standout headgear has shaped Sukazi into a modern-day Ntate Petrus Molemela, the late Bloemfontein Celtic boss, who used to spice up the domestic football scene with his trademark crazy hat, which he complemented with a custom-made gown resembling the Free State club’s green and white colours.

Just like Molemela and Celtic back in the day, Sukazi and Galaxy have endeared themselves to local football fans.

To Sukazi, Galaxy is not just the ambassador of Mpumalanga – the club also promotes the Ndebele culture and tradition while uplifting the community in the former homeland.

“I take the hat as my symbol of appreciation to our people from the strong support base of the club, which is KwaNdebele,” explained Sukazi, who hails from Dennilton near Kwaggafontein.

“You’ll find those colours, known as umgwalo, on the Ndebele blanket. The collar of the jersey that the team wore in the final had the same colours.”

Like most of his colleagues in law, Sukazi doesn’t give away much about his private life, including his age.

Instead, the baby-faced club boss opened up more regarding anything to do with Galaxy, a project he holds dear to his heart.

“This club, in my view, has illustrated more than once that it is moving ahead of its time,” he said of a club that was founded three years ago while campaigning in the ABC Motsepe League.

He explained that Galaxy was established purely on “the need for a young, vibrant and innovative club that is moving with the times”.

Tim Sukazi with iconic Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu (right), who is a regular guest at TS Galaxy games. Picture: Abbey Sebetha / BakonePix

“It didn’t make sense for me to be at the highest level of the game and yet my community hasn’t had a professional football club since the advent of democracy,” said Sukazi, who came to prominence as a player agent, a role he later relinquished because it is against the Fifa constitution to own a club and practise as a player representative.

Sukazi pointed out that the team’s spell in the third division gave them enough room for trial and error as they had no experience of administering a club prior to purchasing the status of Cape Town All Stars last year.

“The journey continues,” he said proudly.

Reflecting on Galaxy’s first season in NFD, Sukazi said the cost of running the club was quite high.

First division clubs get a R500 000 monthly grant from the PSL, and Sukazi revealed that they had to top that up with between R250 000 and R400 000.

He cited travel and accommodation costs as some of the main items on their books.

“It’s quite costly, never mind the salaries and other things. In the past season, we had four Cape Town and four Durban clubs in the NFD, so it was eight coastal trips involved. We spent about R124 000 on our recent trip to Stellenbosch because it was a midweek trip and flights were expensive.”

Read: The secret behind PSL players’ big deals

Without sponsorship, Galaxy depends mostly on Sukazi, who, in turn, runs the entity out of his own pocket.

His signature runs everywhere in the club – from the team’s own luxury bus to the playing kit and bottled water.

Given these circumstances, I ask Sukazi if Galaxy has the funds to sustain itself considering the fact that the club will also represent the country in the Confederation Cup next season.

“We managed to sustain a very expensive NFD league plus the extended Nedbank programme. I think we have managed to make ends meet and we shall do the same simply because we want the people of Mpumalanga to watch CAF Confederation Cup games in their own back yard.”

Sukazi confirmed that his players and the technical team would share 50% of the R7 million they won last weekend, and a committee has been constituted to work out the split of the spoils.

Read: The bitter-sweet story of Dan ‘Dance’ Malesela

He added that the club was in talks with potential sponsors, and he was hoping that “a wise corporate” would come on board to take advantage of Galaxy’s massive and steadfast support base.

Galaxy is more than a football club, he added. Sukazi has adopted six disadvantaged children from grade six to 11 from KwaNdebele. The club funds their education and, in turn, they double as the club’s cheerleaders on match days.

“Those are rural girls from around the community. We wanted to give a life ticket to a girl child through football in the same way as the boy child would benefit by playing the professional game.

“We created cheerleading as an entry point to woman empowerment,” he said proudly.

And, in coach Dan “Dance” Malesela, the team has another colourful character who has brought humour and light to TS Galaxy.

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