The tradition of the Good Friday soccer tournament has existed for a very long time in the townships around Johannesburg, and is still thriving today.
The late Godfather of Soweto, businessman and film and television actor Godfrey Moloi, used to host big and successful soccer tournaments in Mapetla, Soweto. This is where professional players were made, and many graduated from these fields to play for big South African soccer teams, such as Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows.
The Mapetla soccer field was the place to be on Good Friday. There would be soccer scouts present from professional teams around South Africa—and beyond—looking for talent. And Soweto never failed to produce, from legends such as Jomo Sono and Ace Ntsoelengoe, to Kaizer Motaung, Chippa Molatedi and Mike Mangena—they all honed their skills at these massive tournaments.
Today, the legacy of Godfrey Moloi is continued through various Easter soccer tournaments staged in different townships around Johannesburg, including Soweto, Kagiso, Sebokeng, Vosloorus, Tembisa, and Daveyton. Small businesses boom around this time as people come to sell food and drinks. Some still come to scout for players, others to gamble.
Jabulani Maluleke—the captain of the South African Premier Soccer League team Polokwane City—and his partners have started a very successful tournament in my township, Chi Town, at Joburg City soccer field, which is attended by thousands every Easter.
The tournament features soccer stars and legends—current and former professionals—and the atmosphere is electric.
These are the places we have always seen our soccer legends at their best—for free.
- Niq Mhlongo is City Editor and the author, most recently, of the collection of short stories, Affluenza (Kwela, 2016); follow him on Twitter
- Chippa Molatedi
- Godfrey Moloi
- Kaizer Motaung
- Ace Ntsoelengoe
- Jomo Sono
- Chi Town (Chiawelo)
Photos: Niq Mhlongo