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THE CHAIRMAN'SLETTERDEAR MASANDAWANA, It has been just over three months since we launched the first edition of The Mamelodi Sundowns Magazine – and just like a phenomenal first half of football – time seems to have flown right by. I am pleased to be able to connect with you and reflect on the events that have happened since my last letter; and I am excited to share some of the plans and projects that your club has lined up for the new year. All of this I will share with you because you are the Most Valuable Player in our team. Since the launch of Edition 1 of the Magazine, Bafana Ba Style have managed to achieve several notable “firsts” in Mamelodi Sundowns history. In October, members of the club’s admin, along with our players and coaches, volunteered to pack and deliver food parcels for World Food Day. This is not the first time that our club, or members of the team, have given back to our communities, but this was the first time that the Mamelodi Sundowns Foundation participated in a feeding initiative with FoodForwardSA.
FoodForwardSA is South Africa’s largest food redistribution charity that have a very simple but aspirational vision “A South Africa without Hunger”. As a successful soccer team with ambitious goals of our own, the club connected with the values of the noble Non-Profit Organisation and were honoured to take part in the first (of many) food packing projects. You can find the details of this unforgettable event in The Mamelodi Sundowns Foundation Joins The Fight Against Hunger article in the pages to follow. However, the food parcel project was not the only community development initiative that your team was part of. October 11th was ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, an important date in our calendar to promote the empowerment of girls and the fulfilment of their human rights- while also highlighting the challenges that girls all over the world face.
Under the guidance of our club’s Women’s Committee, money was raised from our first team, technical team, and the rest of the Sundowns staff members to donate sanitary pads to young girls from three different primary schools: Mononong Primary, Motheo Primary and Zakhele Primary. The handover took place at an all-girl assembly at Mononong Primary where Lebohang Mabatle and Rhoda Mulaudzi inspired the girls with moving speeches; and Lehlogonolo ’Hlogi Mash’ Mashigo, an alumni of the school, performed with Mzanzi’s Best Amapiano Street Dancer of 2021, Hope Ramafalo . As mentioned in last month’s chairman’s letter, the club vowed that “Mamelodi Sundowns is going to give back”- and I am proud to declare that the giving has begun. As Coach Steve said after a successful parcel packing initiative “If you are blessed, you must be a blessing to others."
In hindsight, Coach Steve’s words may have been a premonition about what was to come; because by blessing others – our club received two very special blessings of our own. The first blessing for the Brazilians came when Dennis Onyango single handily stopped five crucial penalties in a nail-biting MTN8 Final against Cape Town City FC. The Citizens tested our men from Chloorkop and pushed us all the way to a 1-1 finish after 120 minutes of high stakes football. Ultimately, the destiny of the game was decided by our Ugandan shot stopper, after he saved a dramatic fifth penalty shot to seal the victory for the Yellow Nation.
Dennis humbly gave the credit for his record setting feat to his teammates and the Mamelodi Sundowns Goalkeeping department, highlighting the fact that at Mamelodi Sundowns, we win and lose together. It had been fourteen years since Mamelodi Sundowns won a Top 8 competition and the victory at the Moses Mabhida Stadium was the first time that we had won the elusive trophy in its newest format.
By winning this title, our coaches and players have secured another special piece of club history that belongs to them and our supporters. I want to thank our talented coaches, our dedicated technical team and the special group of players that brought this trophy home to our staff and supporters. The victory was sweeter because we managed to play in front of hundreds of vaccinated supporters after a year of silence within our stadiums. I would like to express my gratitude to the PSL, MTN, the Mamelodi Sundowns management team, and our supporter coordinators who helped to make this magical moment possible. Lastly, I want to encourage all South Africans to please consider getting vaccinated so that we can enjoy moments like these again. The second blessing came in Cairo − when our charismatic Ladies Team conquered the continent in a historic first ever CAF Women’s Champions League Final. The story of our ladies team is one of hard work, discipline, commitment, and comradery. Many who follow Banyana Ba Style in the local Hollywood Bets Super league were left feeling anxious after our first game in Egypt- because our women were not their usual free scoring selves. However, the reality was that they were competing at the highest level of African football and the challenge was new to our champions. Nevertheless, the team grew as the competition progressed; saving our famous shoeshine and piano football for the final game when Cheune Morifi and Andisiwe Mgcoyi scored on either side of the half time break.
This tournament revealed another side of our ladies team’s ability, as Captain Zanele and her backline of defenders called “The wall of Jericho” went through the entire tournament without conceding a single goal; personifying the age-old soccer adage that “strikers win you games, but defenders win you championships”. Allow me to congratulate everyone who was a part of our CAF Women’s Champions League success. Mamelodi Sundowns FC are now among a very small group of football clubs in the world that have a men and women’s team that are continental club champions- furthermore, Mamelodi Sundowns FC will forever be remembered as the first team that won the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions league title- and the first name that is engraved on the CAF Women’s Champions League trophy.
Their singing, their style, and their sisterhood captured the hearts and minds of many supporters across Africa- inspiring young girls to be proud of who they are and believe in their dreams. This was not just a victory for Mamelodi Sundowns and South Africa alone- this was also a victory for women across Africa who love this beautiful game. To discover more about our Women’s team and the incredible heroines who made history, flip over to the article titled How Sundowns Ladies Became The Most Dominant Force In African Women’s Football. Another landmark event that occurred towards the end of November was the announcement of the club’s partnership with health and fitness brand Herbalife Nutrition. This was another iconic moment in the club’s history, as the global company became our very first Nutrition Partner; likewise, Mamelodi Sundowns FC became the first African sports team that Herbalife Nutrition has collaborated with.
Now, the Brazilians of Mzansi join the illustrious list of Herbalife Nutrition athletes and clubs; which include the likes of LA Galaxy, Tottenham Hotspur ladies, and Manchester United’s revolutionary number 7, Cristiano Ronaldo. There are many exciting initiatives that we hope to share with our supporters in 2022. After our kiddies clothing range with Ackermans was successfully tested this year, we are happy to inform all Masandawana parents that our boys and girls range of clothing will be available across all major Ackerman retail outlets next year!
Furthermore, we have just launched our very first Mamelodi Sundowns Women’s Range with our partners PUMA! Take a look at the legendary ladies who modelled the new Masandawana leggings and jacket in the magazine’s Banyana Ba Style photoshoot. We are delighted to be the only sports team in the country with ladies’ leggings in our collection- and cannot wait to see our female supporters representing their team over the festive season with items that were made especially for them. Finally, I am proud to announce that our much-anticipated YouTube series, Sundowns Stories, will debut in January 2022. You can expect to see a show that takes a fresh and dynamic look into the lives of the people who make Mamelodi Sundowns the special football club that it is. I would like to thank the Sundowns production team, all the members of Fell & Co Productions, and the Sundowns storytellers who made this incredible volume of stories possible. Like the digital magazine, this series is our gift to you – it is unlike anything that you have seen in South African football before – and we hope you enjoy it.There are many other ground-breaking initiatives lined up for 2022 – but I would like to leave those as a surprise. I will simply say that we will continue to put (you) the supporters at the heart of everything we do. As I conclude, I would like to wish you all a happy festive season and a prosperous new year. If 2021 was a difficult year for you, as it was for most; then we at the club sincerely hope that 2022 brings you renewed happiness. If 2022 begins with the same challenges, then I want you to remember this quote: “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” keep this in mind when things get tough.
If 2021 was a good year for you, then we at Mamelodi Sundowns send our congratulations and wish you more success in 2022!
As you reflect on a year of good fortune, please give these words some consideration “only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have” this is the key lesson that I have learned over the past three months. With Christmas around the corner and schools reopening in January, there is a great opportunity to give back to our youth and ensure that 2022 starts with a smile for someone less fortunate.
Believe in yourself, stay positive, and never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams, that is The Mamelodi Sundowns way.