MEMORIES OF GREATNESS: ZCC members sit next to the coffin of fellow member and soccer legend Thomas Madigage during his funeral in Driekop, Limpopo, yesterday. INSET: Football coaches Pitso Mosimane and Jomo Sono. Picture: Gallo Images
More than 15000 people descended on little known Driekop, near the Limpopo town of Burgersfort, to give Thomas Madigage a hero’s farewell yesterday.
The Bafana Bafana assistant coach’s funeral attracted VIPs and football personalities from across the country. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, Jomo Sono, Safa president Kirsten Nematandani, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and expelled ANC Youth League’s president Julius Malema were part of the turnout at Madigage’s sendoff.
Mbalula implored Safa to honour one of South Africa’s football legends, who died in a car accident two weeks ago aged just 41, by lifting the Afcon trophy in three months.
“Bafana must win the Afcon to show what Madigage was to this nation. We have lost a son of the soil and I urge the youngsters here to follow in his footsteps,” said the minister.
He however took a swipe at Safa for Bafana’s “poor” football.
“The PSL is one of the best leagues in Africa but Safa has nothing to show us as a country. We expect them to win the Afcon tournament for Madigage.”
A sombre Igesund assured they would do everything in their power to honour Madigage with an Afcon victory.
In a speech that had mourners forgetting that they were at a funeral and laughing out loud, Mbalula showered the legendary Jomo Sono with praises for the excellent job of giving the likes of Madigage a chance to shine.
“Unlike present players who drink and don’t respect their jobs, Madigage was a role model.
“He lived a clean life and he was dedicated to his work. People like Sono must be thanked for giving other players like Madigage a chance.
“Madigage was a spiritual person; he was a person you could trust and losing such a talented person is sad.
“He would not stab you in the back unlike certain politicians who sit next to you to destroy you,” he said.
Mbalula also took a swipe at the mining bosses who operate close to Driekop village when he accused them of failing to uplift the community, something that made Malema smile.
“The mining bosses are making money out of your wealth and the community does not get anything in return. Even the people who are employed at the mines, the doors are closed for them and I want to urge the people of Driekop to put their foot down and claim what belongs to them.
“Now that it is voting time, politicians are coming to you people and throw parties so that you can vote for them. After that they forget about you.”
With his thoughts clearly on the ANC elective conference, Mbalula asked Madigage’s church, the ZCC, to pray for him.