Star on field and at home

Thabo Johnson

The death of Japie Arries, 28, was the final straw for his beloved mother Alice Arries, who is struggling to come to terms with her son's death.

He died last week following a long illness.

The former under-20 national soccer star midfielder was the darling of his mother, who nicknamed him Bassie.

At home in Heidedal, young Arries was known as Chomi ya Bana, because he liked playing with children.

Born on September 23 1979 in Heidedal, Bloemfontein, his mother had huge faith in him because he was the last born in a family of four.

"My son was really a star in the family because of his positive attitude. He was very kind to everyone," Arries said.

The Arries family was first dealt a blow in 2004 when their elder son Hendrick died.

The Arries brothers, Japie and Hendrick, played alongside each other at Bloemfontein Celtic and for Durban-based outfit AmaZulu.

Hendrick captained Phunya Selese under different coaches, among them Peter Nyama and Styles Phumo.

Arries had a promising future in football, despite only playing for two Premiership clubs.

He earned himself 14 caps, playing for the national under-20 team.

Moeneeb Joseph and Nasif Morris are some of the players Arries represented the country with in international tournaments, including the 1997 Cosafa youth tournament.

During his stint with the under-20 team, he attracted interest from a few clubs and Celtic, then coached by Phumo, wasted no time signing him in the 1999-2000 season.

His mother has fond memories about her son's steady rise to stardom and the things he did for the family.

"Bassie used part of the signing-on fee money to upgrade the home. My son was wise and caring. He was talented and liked training," she said.

Arries was recruited by Celtic from Milan United, a team that was a household name in the amateur division in the greater Bloemfontein area.

At Milan he played with the likes of Moroka Swallows' winger Cecil Oerson.

The youngest child of Alice and Koos, Arries was one of their four children, two daughters and two sons. He is survived by his mother and elder sister Tshidi. He will be buried tomorrow in Heidedal. The service, at Clive Solomon Stadium, starts at 8.45am.