Football development in Sedibeng in the rut

Posted: 30/12/2013 in Sport
Photo: Simon "Bull" Lehoko

Photo: Simon “Bull” Lehoko

It is often said that ‘it takes a village to raise a child with a hope that in future might end up being celebrated’ but what about a living legend who has defied the odds to set a trend and put his area on the map but neglected and possibly forgotten?

Simon “Bull” Lehoko is a renowned name in the football shores not only in our region but across the country.
Born in Vereeniging in 1951, Lehoko always had a hunger to learn. After attending school at Lekoa Shandu, he enrolled for a teacher’s diploma at Wilberforce Training College in Evaton where he met former Chiefs’ midfield star, the late Ariel “Pro” Khongoane.

Lehoko’s debut at Real X20 launched him on a successful career path, one which may not have materialised if his father had not owned a soccer club.

Lehoko’s father Shadrack was what people in the township commonly referred to as “preza” (president or club owner). His brother Joseph nicknamed him “Bull” because of his tough defensive style.

He rose through the ranks and when he turned 16, his prowess developed in the colours of Real X20. Lehoko was among Real X20 players who featured prominently in the Sharpeville Invitation X1.

Lehoko’s impeccable performance at Vaal Professionals caught the eye of the Phefeni Glamour Boys who started negotiations for his services. However a nagging injury ended his ambitions to continue playing at Chiefs.
In the early 90s Lehoko became head coach of the now-defunct Vaal Professionals. ‘Setla’ as they were known was one of the most feared teams in the old national soccer league, winning the BobSave Superbowl (now the Nedbank Cup) in 1994, becoming the first South African team to play in the Mandela Cup – the African Cup winners’ cup – and being a founder member of the PSL in 1996.

Lehoko and several of his former Vaal Professionals colleagues have their hearts set on top-level football returning to the area, they are also squarely behind efforts at grassroots level to develop not only the football skills of youth in the area but also their life skills and ability to handle the tremendous social challenges they face.

“Bull’s” efforts to resuscitate football development in the region have been washed down the drain as funders failed to honour their promises time and again.

“Soccer development in our region has gone to the dogs despite the success we had in the past. It’s high time we
develop our own and resurrected a professional team within our football fraternity, we need change in the Vaal.”

T his is how Mojekisane, son of a former Kaizer Chiefs Legend Simon “Bull” Lehoko sees the state of football in the region and he pleaded with the community at large to come onboard and rescue fading careers of prominent future stars.

“It is uncalled for to have municipalities running football, whatever happened to former players; why is it that the legends are not given that opportunity? Our region is richly blessed with abundance of football talent but it is absurd to note that only a handful ply their trade in the elite Premier Soccer League.

“We call upon the powers that be to reconsider and give soccer development a thought. Yes, we acknowledge that the plan might be there but it is only on paper. How long will our cries fall on deaf ears, how exciting would it be to see not only the return of Vaal Professionals but also the grassroots growth of the game in the area being put under the control of professionals like the Soccer Legends”, he asks?

Mojekisane also made it known that the much anticipated Simon “Bull” Lehoko Sports Foundation will be launched in a gala-dinner that will be held next month and this is in partnership with soccer giant Kaizer Chiefs Football Club. In attendance will be football greats like Johannes “Ryder” Mofokeng, Joseph “Banks” Setlhodi and Kenneth “Continental” Kubheka to name but a few. This will serve as a channel to outline plans and raise funds for the foundation.

The launch which was scheduled to take place early last month was postponed as a result of internal politics.

“It is saddening to have promises made by decision makers and only to renegade on them. To those who failed us we’d like to say we are aware and have learned”, concluded Lehoko jnr.

Lehoko Foundation in conjunction with Made in the Vaal and Sheila and Mapule Commemorative Welfare Centre will also host a soccer tournament which will pinpoint individuals who are skilful and willing to quit drugs but are faced with different struggles.

The event which coincides with the Vaal Uprising will be aimed at drug abuse which has become a scourge in our lives.

Pule Nteso said, “With this initiative we’re hoping to open our own rehabilitation centre as the current ones are not effective, most of the drug users are prepared and motivated to quit but it goes back to saying what if they relapse.

“We are open to work with everybody. On the day there would be awards which are
earmarked at recognizing and honouring women in sport, supporters who are inspired by the likes of the late Johannes “Mzion” Mofokeng and promoting leaders among us”, added Nteso.

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