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THE CHAIRMAN'SLETTERPhotos: Sundowns MediaOla Masandawana! It remains my great pleasure and privilege to write these letters to you. As always, everyone at Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club sends you their warmest regards and appreciation for taking the time to read through the pages of our Digital Magazine. This edition is dedicated to our beloved Club Communications Officer, Mr Alex “Gold Finger” Shakoane. May his soul Rest In Peace.
We find ourselves at the most eagerly anticipated point of every great journey- the beginning. The team has returned from their break, the friendly matches are finished, and finally, FINALLY, the long-awaited football season is upon us.
Once again, Mamelodi Sundowns start their Premier League campaign as DSTV Premiership Champions; and I want to thank the technical team, the players, the staff members, and our supporters for helping us achieve this coveted honour. Though we won and lost collectively, some individuals were recognised by their peers and League officials for their remarkable performances over the previous season. Coach Rulani Mokwena, our talented tactician, was awarded the DSTV Premiership Coach of The Season. Peter Shalulile won the Premier Soccer League (PSL) Top Goal scorer Award for an amazing third time. Ronwen Williams added the Goalkeeper of the Season Award to his first Premier League winners medal and clean sheet record. Khuliso Mudau won a well-deserved Defender of the Season Award. Cassius Mailula earned himself the DSTV Young Player of the Season Award, and Teboho Mokoena earned two awards as the Midfielder of the Season as well as the illustrious PSL Footballer of the Season. Congratulations to these amazing individuals and their teammates for helping them achieve these awards.
Despite a stellar finish to the DSTV Premiership, we know that there were targets that we fell short of achieving in other competitions. The disappointment of bowing out in the semifinals of the MTN8, Nedbank Cup (quarterfinal) and the CAF Champions League were setbacks that frustrated us all. However, everyone in the team has had time to reflect on these low moments and learn from them. American civil rights activist, Malcolm X, once said, “There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” The pain from our past failures has left lessons for our future success, and in a season where every trophy is on offer, especially the inaugural African Football League, your Brazilians are more determined than ever to win them all.
Our Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies team have had a challenging start to their season but remain at the top of the Hollywood Bets Super League. With a notable improvement in the level of competition in the League this year- our Banyana Ba Style have had to dig deeper to defeat those who have come for their crown. Coach Jerry Tshabalala and his technical team have navigated the squad through the opening half of the women’s season successfully. However, our Champions will need us to rally together and support them in our numbers as they gear up for the resumption of the Women’s League, the COSAFA Women’s Qualifiers, as well as the all-important CAF Women’s Champions League.
One cannot speak about Women’s sports without feeling proud and inspired by Banyana Banyana’s historic performance at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. History was against Banyana as they had never won a match in a World Cup before, but the reigning champions of the Women’s African Cup of Nations kept our hopes alive when they scored a late winner in their final group game against Italy, securing their first ever ticket to the knockout stages! Proving yet again that women’s football in South Africa has immense potential and must be invested in.
Congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns players: Andile Dlamini, Bambanani Mbane, Karabo Dhlamini, Lebohang Ramalepe, Tiisetso Makhubela and Melinda Kgadiete who have made us proud at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
June and July were periods in the year when the Academy and First team took our Shoe Shine and Piano to European shores. Our U15 boys became the first African team to play in the Kevin De Bruyne Cup, and the tournament hosts immediately became fans of our pre-match songs and bold yellow kit. The tour to Belgium gave our youngsters the unique experience to test themselves against different types of players as they faced Barcelona, Palmeiras, and KAA Gent, with the highlight of the tour being a 2-0 victory against Manchester City. The senior team arrived in Holland a month later and played four practice matches against KAA Gent, Go Ahead Eagles, Sparta Rotterdam and NAC Breda. Although it's extremely pleasing that Ka Bo Yellow ended their tour unbeaten against their European counterparts, the most encouraging takeaway from the trip was the strong bonds and team chemistry that was fostered over the period. A special message of thanks goes out to our partners RocNation Sports International for making the U15 trip to Belgium a reality for our young Brazilians. I am certain that both groups who travelled overseas gained valuable experience and returned with renewed determination.
These international excursions are part of the Club's strategy to broaden our global networks and develop our young players. Mamelodi Sundowns does not doubt that African footballers have all the talent required to compete at the game's highest level. However, we need to create environments and opportunities for these footballers to reach their highest potential; this is where our academy becomes crucial. Up to this point, the men and women who work in the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy have done an outstanding job of nurturing our young boys and girls through football. We are excited to share with you that the excellent work done in our youth structures is set to reach another level of success as we welcome Paulo Cardoso to the Yellow Nation as our new Head of the Academy. Paulo joins us from Portugal, where he enjoyed his time at some of the country's biggest Football Clubs with the world's greatest stars. He was identified by our sporting Director, Mr Flemming Berg, and like Flemming, Paulo believes strongly in the project at this football Club and loves our country. As we bid farewell to our former Head of the Academy, the hard-working Shawn Bishop, and our sensational young striker, Cassius Mailula, the academy welcomes Paulo and the new coaches and staff joining us in the coming days. You can learn more about Paulo's story in this edition of the Mamelodi Sundowns magazine.
I am excited to share that our long-awaited Supporter Membership program, the Mamelodi Sundowns Membership Club, is ready to be deployed next month. Masandawana from all over the country can join the movement through an app or via a physical card and claim their place as official members of the Yellow Nation. You can expect a loyalty program that gives you money back on groceries, affordable funeral coverage, an exciting new virtual fan game, and the biggest discounts on Bafana Ba Style clothing at our online store. Yes, we have an online store too! Visit www.sundownsfc.store to grab some discounted gear and pre-order this season's jersey. As the transfer window closes, I would like to wish the players and coaches who have either left the club permanently or gone on loan, all the very best on their new adventures; and thank them for their contribution to the Club. I would also like to welcome all the new players, staff and supporters who have chosen Mamelodi Sundowns as their team. Thank you very much. The road that lies ahead of us is littered with obstacles and opponents, but every obstacle is an opportunity, every challenge is a chance to progress, and every game is a step closer to our ultimate destination, the finals. We have the Coach, the players and the technical personnel needed to win every trophy this season- the final piece of this historic quest is you, our supporter. Our new season’s kit is based on the sound waves that the beat of the drum makes when we sing during our games. When you see our players don the jersey, remember that this shirt represents you, the beating heart of this Football Club. We carry your voices as we play, and the louder you shout for us, the bolder we become. So this season, our request is simple - Support like never before Masandawana. Support every game like it is our last. If you give everything… we will win everything!