Irony in Taunyane's passing

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
I found it quite ironic that on the week that Dr Leepile Taunyane passed on and was interred, South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan announced that his organisation had declared war on corruption.

SAFA still has the Bafana Bafana 2014 Soccer World Cup preparatory games match-fixing scandal hanging over their necks like a sword of Damocles.

While watching TV this past weekend, I chanced upon an episode of the Mzansi Legends Show featuring the self-same Taunyane.

One of the most profound statements was made by Ms Zola Nkutha who said “over all the years that Ntate Taunyane ran the Charity Cup, not a cent went missing.”

And therein lies the rub.

Taunyane was cut from a different cloth from most of the soccer administrators we have seen in this country. There are very few who can even hold a candle to him. In soccer parlance, if he was still a player, some of the current crop of administrators would not even be fit enough to polish his soccer boots.

The good ‘ol doc led with such humility, diligence and has an unblemished record.

This is the legacy he leaves behind from serving soccer right from the grassroots of the Alexandra Football Association, the Transvaal Football Association, the South African National Football Association, the National Professional Soccer League, the National Soccer League to the current day SAFA and the Premier Soccer League.

To the uninitiated, the Charity Cup started its life as the Iwisa Soccer Charity Spectacular in 1986. It was a one-day tournament that featured four professional clubs who were voted by the fans.

That the clubs were voted for by the soccer followers, resulted in Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates being permanent features due to their popularity.

Monies raised from the voting and the gate takings, went straight to charity and Taunyane was in charge of distributing the funds.

While sponsors changed over the years, most people still referred to the tournament as Iwisa Spectacular - a reference to the initial sponsors - even when it was sponsored by Telkom, a move that had huge spinoffs from the voting.

It was sad that the PSL found in its wisdom to discontinue this tournament that was not only so popular with the fans as it served as an appetiser for the upcoming season but most importantly it gave football a chance to give generously to charity.

That it broke Taunyane’s heart no end to see the tournament being discontinued, is well documented.

He had been a permanent feature at the tournament since 1986 and one would see the old school principal beam from ear to ear as he handed out cheques to needy charity organizations year in and year out.

He would even add that he wished there was more in the kitty as there was never enough to meet all the requests that the NSL Trust received.

Even at the Mzansi Legends Show where he was features, he did allude to the fact that he would like to see his “sons” Kaizer Motaung (Kaizer Chiefs boss) and his Orlando Pirates counterpart Irvin Khoza continue to give to charity.

What made the PSL’s decision even look more odd, was the fact that it came about when they became one of the richest league’s in the world, cracking the Top 10.

Given this background, there would never be a more fitting gesture in maintaining Taunyane’s legacy than reviving the Charity Cup.

The PSL and SAFA have a huge responsibility to keep Taunyane’s spirit living and what a better way to do it than to revive the Charity Cup and root out corruption in the sport.

The ball is in SAFA president Jordaan and PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza’s court to ensure that they honour this son of the soil who served the game of football so loyally through his life and did not steal a cent from the game by ensuring that they fulfill the two.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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