A leader on and off the field of play

Former Bafana Bafana star Philemon Masinga.
Former Bafana Bafana star Philemon Masinga.
Image: Boitumelo Tshehle

How can we remember Phil Masinga's legacy? How can we show respect? What are we doing as football people to honour our fallen football heroes and legends?

We constantly remind ourselves about how they brought joy and pride to the country. But are we doing enough to show appreciation.?

I think the soccer fraternity and the municipalities where our soccer legends come from should put their heads together to erect statues, build monuments and other remembrance memorials to highlight the history of our great players.

It is all about educating the youth, the youngsters who don't know our legends. They will get inspired.

I started to read about Chippa in the newspapers before joining Jomo Cosmos when they won the BP Top 8 in 1991 and a year later the Bob Save Super Bowl knockout competitions.

Other Cosmos stars were Eugene Zwane, my late homeboy Sizwe Motaung, Lawrence Siyangaphi, fondly known as "Sister Monica", Tony Caitano and Innocent Mncwango.

A week after their Bob Save Super Bowl victory, Cosmos held trials, which I passed.

That's when I first met Chippa. I saw him walking around with teammates.

But the real up-close and personal meeting happened in December 1992, after the off-season break.

As trialists we reported 10 days earlier than senior teammates. He walked tall, gangling.

He was the fittest and took his strides with confidence.

Chippa helped me gain [same] confidence. A common feature between us was that we were both scouted by Jomo Sono. Chippa made sure he reaches out to me and encouraged me to play my normal football.

Chippa was very close to Sizwe Motaung. Me and Sizwe fought for the same position.

I will never forget when Chippa told me to "make Sizwe to sit on the bench". He would make a person believe in themselves. He and other players made it easy for me to fit into the team quicker than I had expected.

Because I was staying in Orlando West with Sizwe, Chippa would visit often.

In 1994, I was called up to the national team. Chippa once again made my life easier in the Bafana Bafana set-up.

On the field of play Chippa didn't want to come second best. He would fight by all means to out-muscle and outplay his opponents.

Chippa could take on more than one defender at a time. He gave us opportunities to attack in spaces to create goals. He was good as an attacker of the ball in the box. Excellent in getting goals from inside the box.

Oh, he was also a master in giving instructions. He had the attitude and a character of a good leader.

I'm grateful to have rubbed shoulders with legendary players like Chippa. His positive attitude rubbed [off] on others. As a leading striker in Bafana, he gave us all the confidence we needed to believe that we are world beaters.

The last time I spoke to Chippa I was in camp with the under-20 national team, Amajita, late last year before we left for Cosafa tournament in Zambia. I told him I will see him on my return, only to hear last Sunday that he had passed on.

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