Mamelodi Sundowns - The Sky Is The Limit
Sundowns' Brief History
The Sundowns were birthed in 1960 by youngsters in and around Marabastad in Pretoria, South Africa. They joined the Federation of Professional League Soccer in 1967, reaching the finals of the Coca-Cola cup in their debut year which they lost to Berea United. Sundowns were relegated to the lower soccer division in 1980 before Mr. Cool, Zola Mahobe, bought and rescued the club in 1985. The ensuing years were the lavish years when the controversial Mr. Cool invested heavily in the club, seeing them win a few major titles. When Zola was arrested, Standard Bank seized the club which was later acquired by the Krok brothers who steered the club to seven league titles in the post-independence era (1994). Billionaire, Patrice Motsepe bought into the club in 2003 before increasing his stake from 51-100% in 2004, renaming the club to Mamelodi Sundowns as “a nod to its heritage in Atteridgeville, Eersterus and Laudium and the club’s home in Mamelodi.” His goal became continental glory for the club and appointed Pitso Mosimane as head coach, to steer the boys to success.
Locally, the Mamelodi boys are also known as the Brazilians because of their uniform colors, Ka Bo Yellow (with yellowness), Masandawana or Bafana BaStyle.
Championships and Records
Masandawana are the most successful South African club in the Premier Soccer League era dating back to 1996, having won a record of seven league titles, four Nedbank cups - an equivalent of the English FA Cup, National Football League Championships thrice and most recently, the continental crown (CAF Champions League trophy) and the 2016 CAF Club of The Year Award. Downs are infamous for annihilating Powerlines FC, 24 - 0, yes they won by 24 goals to nothing! It was a Nedbank cup tie in 2012 in which their long-range sniper, Hlompo Kekana found the back of the net seven times together with Zimbabwean striker, Nyasha Mushekwi getting half a dozen of goals as well. They are the only team from South Africa to ever participate in the FIFA Club World Cup though they finished winless in that particular tournament.
“Bafana ba Style”
The club is increasingly cementing their place in the fans’ hearts as the most attractive to watch in the PSL. They were dubbed, Bafana ba Style which literally means, boys with style. Their game is ever becoming more technical, full of flair, precision, and quick short passes - some locals call it ‘shoe shine and piano.’ In other parts of the world, this would be tiki-taka as is/was the case with the Catalans, Barcelona. Some would highlight that what sets them apart from the rest is their style mixed with purpose, unlike some PSL teams who showboat once in a while but have limited results to show for it. Their thrashing of Powerlines FC may act as evidence to suggest their ruthlessness even in winning positions.
Ubuthu-Botho - Living the Dream
You would be perfectly justified if you say that Ubuthu-Botho is perhaps their mantra. It is an African world-view which literally means humanness or personhood embodying socio-moral significance. The phrase is inscribed on their yellow and blue uniforms and more importantly - they seem to be intentional about living the inscription. Sundowns now have over 300 registered branches of supporters associations in Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe and even abroad
in the Cincinnati, USA. One of the supporters associations in Atteridgeville, South Africa contributed some money to buy materials and built a shack house for one of their own, on her birthday. They expressed their interest in helping a fellow Masandawana achieve her dreams. A shack house might not necessarily be a big deal some eyes but it was good enough to let tears free flow from the lady’s eyes. That’s how much it meant to her. From time to time, the fans also gather in small communities to enjoy some time together, grilling meat and drinking beverages. Social initiatives by the club include the Miss Mamelodi Sundowns beauty pageant, birthed in 2010 to empower women throughout the country. The coveted beauty pageant has the largest prize in South Africa and prides itself in paralleling with other prestigious awards such as Miss South Africa. They also participate in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup tournament, the biggest schools football tournament with a prize money of over (USD) $250 000. This tournament acts as an avenue for football aspirants to showcase themselves and at times get scouted by professional teams.
The Sky is the Limit
Backed by a strong sense of community, competitive spirit and a billionaire in the form of Patrice Motsepe, there is no telling how far they can go. We have recently seen them establish a football philosophy, acquire foreign players to camp in South Africa, not just fellow Africans but from as far as New Zealand, Uruguay and quite interestingly having the football aspirant/Olympics Champion, Usain Bolt join their ranks for training - I would guess that global conquest is in their sights and may possibly play a major role in taking African football to the world or bringing the world to Africa. The sky is indeed the limit.