Icon’s death mourned

Washington “Wachita” Mokgadi. Photo: Teboho Setena
Washington “Wachita” Mokgadi. Photo: Teboho Setena

The Free State sports fraternity mourns revered sport icon Washington David Mokgadi (79), who was regarded as “the captain of all sport”.

The legendary sportsman passed away on Saturday (07/04) due to an illness.

He was referred to as the captain of all sport due to his traits and versatility.

Mokgadi is well remembered for his enthusiasm and knowledge of diffe­rent sporting codes.

He was also known as “DC”, “Wa­chita” and “Al die Hoekies”, a name he earned for his goalkeeping pro­wess while playing for the Matlhomola Black Birds and Basotholand Lads (commonly known as B Lads).

Mokgadi’s traits saw him cut across almost all sports roles – playing, officiating, mentoring and coaching to some degree.

A towering figure, he was ever present, playing an active role in sport, rather than being a spectator.

At his prime age he was an athlete of note in at least four sporting codes: tennis, softball, athletics and football.

Mokgadi is fondly remembered for his selflessness as a father-figure to both his family and the sports fraternity.

“We would like to thank God for having given him to us as a father and we would also like to thank our mother – his wife – for sharing him with the community in the way she did,” says Dominique Mokgadi, his son.

“He taught us what the love of God is and to not be selfish. He was a very strict man who would deal with ill-discipline in a very firm manner.

“His passing away has left a huge void in our lives.”

Tributes have been pouring in from different sectors, expressing shock about Mokgadi’s passing.

“We, the Mokgadi family and relatives, would like to express our gratitude for all words of comfort we have received regarding the passing of our father.”

Mokgadi’s highlights in football include serving in the South African Football Association (Safa) as a match commissioner, professional assistant referee and referee instruc­tor.

His passion for sport also saw him serving as the oldest volunteer during the 2010 Fifa World Cup tournament staged in South Africa.

”As a community builder in sport, he touched the lives of many athletes. The South African football fraternity has lost a giant. A man who lived his life serving others,” says Dennis Mumble, Safa’s chief executive officer.

“He lived for sport and was one of the most recognised sportsmen, whose exper­tise varied from being a referee to a trainer and a coach for football, tennis and netball. He was what one can call an all-rounder.”

The Caleb Motshabi Sports Centre (formerly the Bantu Sport Institute) in Batho, Bloemfontein, is where Mokgadi showcased his masterful tennis skills.

At this centre he also recruited and mentored talent in netball and tennis alike. His roles also extend to boxing – both amateur and professional.

  • A memorial service will be held in the St John’s Methodist Church today (11/04), starting at 11:00.
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