The late 68-year-old Free State Stars FC Chairman Mike Mokoena has been described as an epitome of practicality.
Bro Mike, as he was affectionately known, was a respected businessman and football administrator.
Mokoena’s club was formed at the Makwane village in QwaQwa 43 years ago. He, however, sold the status to the PSL in 2002 when the league reduced clubs from 18 to 16.
Mokoena later bought the status of first division club Maholosiane FC in 2003.
Among other honours, they became Second Division champions in 1985, and won the 1994 Coca Cola Cup against Hellenic, in the game in which former striker, Bunene Ngaduane was unstoppable.
It’s a game which was played at the cricket oval in Bloemfontein.
Mokoena’s insatiable lust for football did not end there. Under his stewardship, the club regained their Premiership status in 2005 after winning the then-Mvela Golden League.
Ea Lla Koto, as Stars are endearingly called, were relegated in the 2005/6 season. Even though the Stars did well in the 2017/18 season by claiming the Nedbank Cup, they got relegated the following season.
PSL Chairman Dr Irvin Khoza says Mokoena was a selfless man who was always willing to help others.
“In football, we are rich with his life investment in what he saw as a vision in 1984 to form the NSL. Ntate Mokoena remains one of the visionaries in contribution to making sure that development of football realises its own potential in what we are experiencing today. So, we are saying to all of us in football, we are commiserating with the family of the Mokoena for the loss of a man who has spent so much time all the time, in the road in uniting, the breath of South Africa without complaining.”
Former Free State Stars long-serving Captain Serame ‘Meneer’ Letsoaka says Mokoena was a father figure to his charges.
Letsoaka, who spent just over 10 years of his playing career at Stars, seven of them as captain, says Mokoena was a leading football administrator.
Among his achievements at Stars, Letsoaka captained the club to the Coca Cola Cup victory in 1994. A teacher by profession, Letsoaka says he and his former teammates such as Steve Komphela, David Vilakazi and Mike Rapatsa, were able to complete their tertiary studies through the support of Mokoena.
“He was a father. We came, a lot of us, from different backgrounds and that is why even when he did not have a sponsorship he was able to keep the team in the Premier League for many, many years”.
Former Free State Stars captain and current Golden Arrows Head Coach, Steve Komphela says he owes his being to Mokoena and his family.
“And I used the money I was earning from football to complete my studies and he made it a point that he gave all the support … going to school, going to training, checking with me. But what touched my heart, and that literally transferred me from a Komphela to another Mokoena, was when schools were closed, when I was doing my teachers’ diploma I would live with the family, I would go to Mokoena, by his house. I was living in his house.”
Free State Sports, Arts and Culture Spokesperson Tankiso Zola says Mokoena’s passing came as a shock.
Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised.
In the podcast below, the football fraternity pays tribute to Mokoena on Marawa Sports Worldwide on Metro FM & Radio 2000: