Patrick Ace Ntsoelengoe
A few days ago I had written about the role that soccer played in the struggle against apartheid. But it was more an academic discourse and the article did not give it a face or a soul that makes such a struggle visceral or even personal. From Tony Karon’s blog we learn that one of South Africa’s legendary soccer players passed away last weekend, Ace Ntsolelengoe of the Minnesota Kicks and Kaizer Chiefs. Here is Tony’s moving tribute to Ace.
As Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung said this week, the skills of the back-to-back world footballer of the year, Ronaldinho, come closest to describing Ace’s style of play. Fans across the bridge at the Orlando West’s shanty ground, almost a kilometre from Ace’s stomping ground of Orlando stadium, would know when Ace was in possession, as the loud cries of “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace” carried out of the stadium. A trademark of his game was his sudden decision to simply walk with the ball at his feet while the game was being played at furious pace
In the course of perusing Peter Alegi’s article on soccer and apartheid in South Africa, a few other names cropped up. Dharam Mohan, Conrad Stuurman, Scara Sono, and Difference Mbanya.
Being from India, the name Dharam Mohan immediately caught my attention. A South African soccer player of Indian extraction!! He was the captain of Avalon Athletic, a racially integrated soccer club in Durban. From the little I could glean, he was also a player of extra-ordinary ability. As this letter from a former referee attests. I am curious to know about Indian soccer players in South Africa and their contribution to the struggle against apartheid. There seems to have been a number of Indian players in the South African soccer league like Bob Pillay, Sugar Singh, and Thiri Rampath. Curious is the virtual absence of a mention in the Indian press which is quick to trumpet every achievement of the Indian diaspora in sports. From Alexei Grewal to Vikash Dhorasoo to Mohini Bharadwaj.
So please write to Soccerblog if you have any more information about Dharam Mohan and other Indian soccer players in South Africa.