The North West Education and Sports Department has hailed former Bafana Bafana striker Phil Masinga for playing an important role in sports development in the province.

Masinga, who was born in the North West, was the ambassador for the department’s annual Maize Cup tournament.

He died at a Johannesburg hospital on Sunday morning at the age of 49.

“You would remember that we have a Maize Cup in our province. Phil has been taking part in that tournament and he has been one of our ambassadors himself. Lovers Mohlala, Phabian McCarthy, Slyvester Kole, Jacob Tshisevhe, they have been taking part in that and then we really appreciate what they have been doing, but now we have lost a great giant,” says the department’s Spokesperson, Freddy Sepeng.

Spokesperson of the Masinga family Majoro Nguphane says he was their pillar of strength.

“Phil was the unifier in the entire family of the Masingas. I used to call him the star of the family. Many family members were looking up to him because of what he has achieved; coming from a very poor family in Stilfontein without formal education. He only went to school after retiring. He was the inspiration of the family, was the inspiration of the nation. People were looking up to him. He was a good father to his children.”

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