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THE CHAIRMAN'SLETTERDEAR MASANDAWANA, There is so much that I wish to say to you in my first letter as the Chairman of Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club. There is a season to report on, there are projects and plans to share, and there is an exciting future to prepare for. All of this I will share with you, because you are the most valued member of our family. However, what I ask in return is that you find a comfortable place to read this long letter... as it may go into extra-time. I would like to start by saying “thank you” - TO YOU, the Mamelodi Sundowns supporters, for the continued love and commitment that you have given to this football institution. Thank you for supporting our coaches and our players, thank you for defending our team when we could not, and thank you for supporting me in my new position at this great club. I write this letter to you at a time when the entire world is still grappling with the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not so long ago, we South Africans had our faith tested even further when we experienced a week of unrest and rioting in some parts of the country.
Although the societal challenges that our country faces are by no means behind us, I have found hope in the news that South Africans have already begun to rebuild the relationships and businesses that were damaged during those trying times. Mamelodi Sundowns has the words UBUNTU- BOTHO placed on our shirts- this is a very special title that graces our jersey. The word UBUNTU comes from an African philosophy that highlights the importance of respecting the humanity of others and caring for the communities around us.
As an African football club, we want to encourage our supporters to promote the spirit of UBUNTU; and we want to salute those supporters who have taken it upon themselves to mobilise and give back to communities across the country. We see your efforts and we celebrate your amazing spirits! The team always wants to make you happy because you make us so proud!
Before our nation went into the lockdown, Mamelodi Sundowns soccer matches were joyous celebrations of song and dance. The voices of our Yellow Nation in the stands would carry our players to victory, encouraging them to play in our famous Shoe Shine and Piano style of football. However, it has become notably different without the supporters in the stands, the singing has been replaced with silence, the dancing has disappeared, and our celebrations have been subdued. While our team continues to play for our supporters, we eagerly wait for the day that the club is reunited with its famous 12th player- the supporters. We really miss you and I am sure that you miss us too.
With more than a year spent away from stadiums, live events and theatres, we now have an opportunity to return to normality, thanks to the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine. We at Mamelodi Sundowns would like to applaud those who have chosen to get vaccinated - and we wish to encourage others who have not yet done so to please visit https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za/#/ to register.
Those who are still undecided, please allow yourself the chance to hear the reasons why the country is eager to vaccinate- the best source of vaccination info can be found on the government website https://www.gov.za/covid-19/vaccine or speak to your local clinic or doctor.
As every new season approaches, I find myself feeling the same sense of excitement and eagerness that has been with me since I first fell in love with the game. New players are announced, home and away kits are revealed, and most importantly - football matches return to our screens. It’s an exciting time in the calendar because it represents renewed hope, refuelled ambitions, and revived rivalries. After completing the league in the bio-bubble due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020/21 season returned with enthusiasm and eagerness as it marked the unveiling of the (then) newly launched DSTV Premiership. The season was unlike any other, not only were the sixteen Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams competing for a lucrative R15 million first prize- but we were also battling it out for the honour of becoming the first team to have its name engraved on the newly designed trophy. For Mamelodi Sundowns supporters, players, board members and staff- the mission was clear: we wanted that piece of history and we wanted to be the first.
As Bafana Ba Style, we began the season with a small piece of South African footballing history in our back pockets when we chose to introduce a never-before-seen coaching structure to the league. As we said goodbye to our former coach, Pitso Mosimane to Al Ahly, the club decided to show faith in local talent yet again and promoted his successors from within our ranks. The appointment of Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena was another masterful appointment made by our club President Dr Patrice Motsepe. The inclusion of Steve Komphela from Lamontville Golden Arrows, as the team’s Senior Coach, was an inspired inclusion that made the new Mamelodi Sundowns coaching structure an unprecedented arrangement in South African football- and a bold symbol of unity.
This historic combination of coaches naturally drew questions from our supporters and criticism from the speculators- but Mamelodi Sundowns have never been shy to innovate in football, and these men gave us every reason to believe in their ability.
As I write to you now, we have proudly witnessed our team crowned as the inaugural champions of the DSTV Premiership; and that unique piece of history will forever belong to our coaches, technical team, staff and supporters. Last season, we set a new unbeaten record of 22 games and went through the entire campaign without losing a single away match. Our team successfully defended their title for a record-breaking fourth time in a row and we cemented our position as the most successful team in the South African PSL era. I would like to congratulate everyone who made this possible, the championship is an incredible honour that is reserved for only one team each year. This achievement must never be overlooked because it is never guaranteed. The title of “League Champion” is fought for relentlessly in every match, every tackle, and every minute on the training ground. We are proud of our champions and we salute them for defending our League Title.
Furthermore, the club is proud of the accolades that our Sisters in Yellow have achieved this season. Led by coach Jerry Tshabalala, the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Team created a record of their own when they went an entire season unbeaten- and are yet to lose the title of Invincibles in their current league season. Early in September, our Ladies Team participated in the COSAFA regional qualifiers for a place in the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League (WCL). We are excited to announce that they ended the tournament as COSAFA club champions; and they will now carry the hopes of the entire Yellow Nation and the country when they compete for the CAF WCL title in Egypt. We are behind you Banyana Ba Style!
When reflecting on the season that has passed, one has to ask the question “but could we have done better?”
I believe there is always room for improvement. At Mamelodi Sundowns, we enter every competition with the intention of leaving as champions- not because of who we are, but because of what we believe in. Unfortunately, in the season passed, our team was knocked out of the elusive MTN 8, we stumbled in the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup, and exited the CAF Champions League at the quarter final stage. These missed opportunities certainly left us feeling disappointed as we look back and reflect on what may have been; but every disappointment taught us something about ourselves. I am confident that the difficult lessons of the past will lead us to greater success in the future.
Most notably our lowest point of the season were the passing of our two players, colleagues and friends, Anele Ngcongca and Motjeka Madisha, who were tragically taken unexpectedly. May their souls rest in peace, they will forever be sorely missed and remembered. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR OUR FOOTBALL CLUB?Before we look forward, I feel it is important to acknowledge the roles that those before us have played in shaping Mamelodi Sundowns. Dr Itsweng and Dr Sebotsane, Zola Mahobe, The Krok brothers and the Tschiclas family have all been crucial contributors to our football club- these individuals, as well as the legendary players, coaches, and staff members of the past, have made this team what it is today.
We want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for the contribution that our club President, Dr Patrice Motsepe, has made to Mamelodi Sundowns FC. His commitment to our supporters has been the bedrock of the clubs success. Apart from the investments made in the first team and academy structures; he has given the team an intangible culture of winning and a deep desire to compete and win on the African continent. These values became reality when we were crowned CAF Champions League winners in 2016 and CAF Super Cup champions in 2017. I look at our President and see an example of a man who wants to use sport to give back to South Africa and the rest of the African Continent. He was instrumental in bringing Ronaldhinio and Barcelona to South Africa in 2007 and then invited Lionel Messi’s Barcelona again in 2017. These were two moments that brought sports fans from all backgrounds together and allowed Masandawana to believe that the Sky really was the limit.
As for the future of our club; Mamelodi Sundowns will continue to follow the path that was laid by Dr Patrice Motsepe, our visionary President. The club will continue to contribute to the development of South African football through our Academy and will strive to become one of the best teams on the African continent and beyond. We will work harder to retain our title as the Premier League Champions and compete in every local competition with a commitment to capture each cup. One cannot talk about titles without mentioning the highest accolade in African club football- The CAF Champions League. Winning this iconic trophy is like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro- it requires large amounts of grit, skill, and a little bit of good fortune; but we have conquered the climb before- and we intend to reach its summit again.
As I embark on the first full season as the Chairman of our beloved club, I have set out three goals for club management to achieve away from the pitch. They are as follows: Sundowns is going digital: With no signs of supporters being allowed in the stadiums any time soon, you can expect to see more interaction from our social media and digital platforms as we try to enhance our connection with you while we are forced to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions. This digital magazine is one such example, you can expect more initiatives like this that are aimed at satisfying your appetite for Mamelodi Sundowns content. However, even though we intend to grow our digital presence, we will never stop celebrating as one family; and once we have all vaccinated and social gatherings are permitted, the Yellow Nation will gather once again to share in your team’s glory.Sundowns is going to Partner up: Mamelodi Sundowns is a big brand and big brands need to partner with other leading organisations in order to amplify their presence and reach new milestones. By the time this magazine is released, Mamelodi Sundowns would have announced its partnership with the international sports agency Roc Nation; and we hope to complete other partnerships before the close of the year. Although it may be difficult in the current economic climate to find commercial partners, our club is motivated towards bringing new deals and sponsorships to Chloorkop. All with the aim of exciting our supporters and creating positive collaborations with like-minded partners.Sundowns is going to give back:As we look to grow our list of commercial partners, the club will also aim to boost its community development efforts through The Mamelodi Sundowns Foundation. The Foundation is the Club’s outreach division that will focus on the youth, education and sports development. Dr Patrice Motsepe has taught us the importance of philanthropy, and I am hopeful that with the backing of our staff, coaches, players and supporters- The Mamelodi Sundowns Foundation will make a significant impact on many lives in our country and the continent.Before I conclude, I would like to thank Dr Patrice Motsepe for placing his faith in me to do this job, it is truly the privilege of a lifetime. I want to thank Dr Rejoice Simelane, our club’s Deputy Chairperson for her support, as well as the Board of Directors and our administration for the tireless work they do to keep our club moving forward. I must also thank those who keep our grounds in order, as well as our cooks, cleaning staff and security personnel who make Chloorkop the home of champions.
The last message of thanks goes to the people on the pitch- our players, coaches, and technical staff; the men who won us the league and the women who ended last season unconquered. I want to thank you all for once again raising your game to new levels and finding the hunger to put your names in the history books of South African football.
As we enter another new season, my hope is that Mamelodi Sundowns FC continues to bring our supporters joy, upliftment and inspiration. This Digital Magazine is another historic moment for the club, but more than that, it is our gift to you. From everyone at Mamelodi Sundowns FC, we wish you and your family good health, safety and happiness.
Believe in yourself, stay positive and never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams, that is the Mamelodi Sundowns way.
All of the best Masandawana- The Sky is The Limit!!! Tlhopie Motsepe (Chairman)