Banners
Banners

Latest News

With the future of many football players looking bleak due to a prolon...
After all the controversy surrounding Baboloki Thebe last year that in...
The Botswana National Sport Commission’s (BNSC) grant for the 20...
The women’s soccer team, Mares coach, Gaolethoo ‘Ronaldo&r...
Banners
Banners

Bhamjee, soccer's flamboyant game changer

CORRESPONDENT
Football's loss: Bhamjee during the launch of the book, Ali -The Life of Ali Bacher by Rodney Hartman PHOTO: PAT SEBOKO
On Tuesday morning, just after I had woken up, I was greeted by the news of the passing away of a man I have always had great respect for, notwithstanding his infraction of the law.

As a society, we really should learn to forgive and give credit where it should be. With disbelief, I called one former soccer administrator, Rashid Chopdat. He quickly confirmed the news of the passing of Abdul Bhamjee. Interestingly, whenever I saw Rashid in pictures or wherever, he would remind me of Abdul. I compare the passion that he brought to South African soccer to what Rashid Chopdat of Extension Gunners did to local soccer, especially his team.

They brought flair, flamboyance, glamour, vibe, professionalism and oomph to the different terrains in which they operated. There was glaring irony, however. While Rashid was a club manager and part financier of Extension Gunners, which was in an amateur league, Abdul was with a league that brought in lots of money and was semi-professional.

The year 1985 saw the birth of the National Soccer League (NSL) following feuds that ensued at the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL), which had been formed in 1970 after the amalgamation of the National Football League and NPSL affiliates. Behind the formation of the NSL was Abdul who was not new to football. With him were Kaizer Motaung and Cyril Kobus. Together with Stix Morewa, they called the shots at both NSL and South Africa Football Association. The NSL would later reunite with the NPSL to form the current Premier Soccer League (PSL), on instruction from the African National Congress (ANC). They saw potential in soccer and worked hard to make it a brand that could be commercialised. Having rival leagues was going to dilute the brand. With the purchase of television rights by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the game attracted sponsors. With some sponsors sensing the impending collapse of Apartheid, they wanted to associate with a sport that had numbers and was non-racial. One could be deceived to believe that showing games live on TV was going to affect the attendance of games. That was not to be. Mr Soccer, as Abdul was known, danced in front of hungry-for-entertainment spectators at soccer games. His antics continued to draw huge crowds.

No sponsor wanted to be left out. There was a melee. Brand construction was in progress. He breathed dazzling razzmatazz into soccer. Abdul Bhamjee struck a good relationship with the hard to please journalists. He became the go-to guy for a scoop. You could hardly buy the then-popular publications, Soccer Mirror, Kick-Off if his picture was not there. These publications were popular even in Botswana as the South African media was dominating in the region. Funds permitting, we would rush to the Selebi-Phikwe Bookshop, then run by the Scherers, to grab a copy of one of the magazines. Some countries like Botswana did not have a television station.

The sponsors knew this. Selling your brand in South Africa meant hitting the whole region. The journalists loved him and the readers too. He was selling and growing soccer in all ways possible. The media had a dependable source and he had a powerful platform to grow soccer.

So it was a symbiotic relationship, each feasting on the other. The country was at the height of apartheid and non-racial football provided the kind of forum where the oppressed blacks could douse their anger with the system. He gave the nation what it wanted. A breath of fresh air. “I need 25 hours in a day to run soccer affairs,” he would tell journalists. With this growth, soccer needed a home to take care of the numbers that Abdul was drawing to soccer games.

The Orlando Stadium in Soweto, the traditional home of soccer was crumbling and the continued dependence on Ellis Park and Loftus Versfeld, homes of Rugby had to stop. Bhamjee and his team wanted to counter white dominance and the continued use of these grounds, which were associated with white supremacy did not fit into their vision.

No wonder he approached the then managing director of FNB South Africa, Chris Ball, for funding of the construction of Soccer City.

The bank was seen as liberal. Save for Standard Bank South Africa, the other banks, Volkskas, Trust Bank, Santam, and others were bastions of Afrikaner Nationalism and therefore fell outside what they stood for. The league officials were very close to the ANC and supported the sports boycott movement.

In 1986 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the stadium, Abdul Bhamjee, the football master spinner, called it the home of South African soccer, the Mecca, much to the chagrin of those who felt the title belonged to Orlando Stadium. FNB was built not far from the Orlando Stadium, but closer to Johannesburg.

There was symbolism to this, a friend said, the country was getting closer to being one. The white spectators would come from the suburbs while the blacks would come from Soweto to the melting pot. In 1989, Kaizer Chiefs and Swallows played in the Ohlsson’s Challenge Cup to mark the official opening of the stadium.

The stadium was full and various artists were there to provide entertainment. I still remember the get down dance moves of this man, jiving with her on stage, driving the crowds at the stadium and those watching at home, crazy. Soccer was on the rise and money

Banners
was coming in thick and fast. The FNB would later host the World Cup final in 2010.

In the face of this success, Abdul and some of his colleagues were courted by controversy. It started with the naming of the stadium.

FNB opposed the name Soccer City and went to court to have it called FNB Stadium. Abdul was convicted of fraud and given a 14-year prison sentence, though he did not see it all out. The money involved was under R7m from sponsorship and broadcasting rights from the SABC.

He did not plead guilty to the charge and maintained that this was commission paid by the NSL. He would later in an interview say that the mistake he committed was not to record some transactions. Maybe it was ‘the 25-hour a day’ he committed to soccer that made him overlook this and got him convicted.

He reasoned further that the commission was compensation for the neglect of his sportswear businesses in Fordsburg. It is difficult to imagine how the South African soccer scene would be like without his input. He was more than a PRO and provided strategic direction to the league and built a sound relationship with corporates, together with his peers.

The once-powerful team of Abdul Bhamjee, Cyril Kobus and Kaizer Motaung was losing grip on soccer. Stix Morewa is quoted as having said after he was caught with his hands in the till “money is always in need“. Kobus was also convicted. Leepile Taunyane, who was the PSL life president had run-ins with these actors. Then entered Irvin ‘The Iron Duke’ Khoza, Molefi Oliphant and Danny Jordaan. This marked the beginning of the end of an era. However, Motaung remained influential in the league, now under Irvin Khoza.

The Iron Duke also retained Kobus, after his release from prison as a director at Orlando Pirates when he took over on his own terms as club chairperson. In 1986 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the stadium, Abdul Bhamjee, the football master spinner, called it the home of South African soccer, the Mecca, much to the chagrin of those who felt the title belonged to Orlando Stadium. FNB was built not far from the Orlando Stadium, but closer to Johannesburg. There was symbolism to this, a friend said, the country was getting closer to being one. The white spectators would come from the suburbs while the blacks would come from Soweto to the melting pot.

In 1989, Kaizer Chiefs and Swallows played in the Ohlsson’s Challenge Cup to mark the official opening of the stadium. The stadium was full and various artists were there to provide entertainment. If I am not mistaken Yvonne Chaka Chaka was on stage. I still remember the get down dance moves of this man, jiving with her on stage, driving the crowds at the stadium and those watching at home, crazy. No one wanted to miss the electrifying atmosphere at the stadium. Soccer was on the rise and money was coming in thick and fast.

Little did he know that the FNB would later host the World Cup final years later. As they say, success brings controversy. In the face of this success, Abdul and some of his colleagues were courted by controversy. It started with the naming of the stadium.

FNB opposed the name Soccer City and went to court to have it called FNB Stadium. Abdul was convicted of fraud and given a 14-year prison sentence, though he did not see it all out.

The money involved was under R7m from sponsorship and broadcasting rights from SABC. He did not plead guilty to the charge and maintained that this was commission paid by the NSL. He would later in an interview say that the mistake he committed was not to record some transactions. Maybe it was 'the 25-hour a day' he committed to soccer that made him overlook this and got him convicted. He reasoned further that the commission was compensation for the neglect of his sportswear businesses in Fordsburg. There is no doubt that Abdul Bhamjee played an important role in the monumental growth of South African soccer.

It is difficult to imagine how the South African soccer scene would be like without his input. He was more than a PRO and provided strategic direction to the league and built a sound relationship with corporates, together with his peers. Mr Soccer was no ordinary PRO like your Alex Shakoane and Felix Tshokoane, as his role went beyond waving to crowds at matches.

The once-powerful team of Abdul Bhamjee, Cyril Kobus and Kaizer Motaung was losing grip on soccer. Stix Morewa is quoted as having said after he was caught with his hands in the till “money is always in need“. Kobus was also convicted. Leepile Taunyane, who was the PSL life president had run-ins with these actors.

Then entered Irvin ‘The Iron Duke’ Khoza, Molefi Oliphant and Danny Jordaan. This marked the beginning of the end of an era. However, Motaung remained influential in the league, now under Irvin Khoza.

The Iron Duke also retained Kobus, after his release from prison as a Director at Orlando Pirates when he took over on his own terms as club chairperson.



Sport

Banners
Banners ?>

Selefu

A hole in the economy

Latest Frontpages

Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper Todays Paper
Banners
Adana Escort Adıyaman Escort Afyon Escort Ağrı Escort Aksaray Escort Amasya Escort Ankara Escort Antalya Escort Antep Escort Ardahan Escort Artvin Escort Aydın Escort Balıkesir Escort Bartın Escort Batman Escort Bayburt Escort Bilecik Escort Bingöl Escort Bitlis Escort Bolu Escort Burdur Escort Bursa Escort Çanakkale Escort Çankırı Escort Çorum Escort Denizli Escort Diyarbakır Escort Düzce Escort Edirne Escort Erzincan Escort Elazığ Escort Erzurum Escort Eskişehir Escort Giresun Escort Gümüşhane Escort Hakkari Escort Hatay Escort Iğdır Escort Isparta Escort İskenderun Escort İstanbul Escort İzmir Escort İzmit Escort Karabük Escort Karaman Escort Kars Escort Kastamonu Escort Kayseri Escort Kıbrıs Escort Kırıkkale Escort Kırklareli Escort Kırşehir Escort Kilis Escort Kocaeli Escort Konya Escort Kütahya Escort Malatya Escort Manisa Escort Maraş Escort Mardin Escort Mersin Escort Muğla Escort Muş Escort Nevşehir Escort Niğde Escort Ordu Escort Osmaniye Escort Rize Escort Sakarya Escort Samsun Escort Siirt Escort Sinop Escort Sivas Escort Şırnak Escort Tekirdağ Escort Tokat Escort Trabzon Escort Tunceli Escort Urfa Escort Uşak Escort Van Escort Yalova Escort Yozgat Escort Zonguldak Escort Alaçatı Escort Aliağa Escort Alsancak Escort Bornova Escort Buca Escort Çeşme Escort Çiğli Escort Gaziemir Escort Karşıyaka Escort fethiye escort iskenderun escort iskenderun escort iskenderun escort iskenderun escort iskenderun escort