Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Giants beware: Platinum-enriched Stars go to the top of the Q

First class coach: Cavin Johnson of Platinum Stars
On a weekend where Roger de Sa closed gaps and Stuart Baxter wore gags, there is only one coach more newsworthy. Cavin Johnson of Platinum Stars.
I first heard about his current club, shock winners of the R1.5m Q2 bonus on Sunday, back in 2009. I wondered when they’d start to hit the peaks then.
As an Evening Standard journalist over from London covering the England v Proteas cricket tour, I’d taken a couple of days off to track down England’s under-construction Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus somewhere between Boshoek and Rustenburg, not far from Sun City.
Luck rather than judgement led to me to a crumbling hotel opposite the magnificent Kedar Lodge on a small backroad off the N4. And there, I found the roots of the current successful but generally unfashionable Dikwena.
Amid the frantic building before the World Cup, I unearthed a chap called Martin Becker, a former St Stithians boy who worked – with some gusto – for King Leruo, otherwise known as Kgosi Leruo Tshekedi Molotlegi (born in 1968, ruler since 2000), the 36th monarch of the Royal Bafokeng Nation.
 A sporty former Hilton College victor ludorum in the 1980s, Leruo is President of the Mineral Rights Association of Indigenous People of South Africa, has a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Natal University and is an Honorary Colonel in the South African Air Force.
His “first contact” Becker, often referring to the Bafokeng people as “we” and “our”, explained how King Leruo had utilised the mineral rights of the platinum-rich soil surrounding us to ease his way on to the local foreign mining boards, earning huge dividends and chunks of foreign companies. His predecessors had simply taken a share of the profits.
And as the World Cup approached and visits over the next six months continued, I learned how the wily monarch, whose great-grandfather had signed future rights to his land on the advice of a top-hatted bloke called Paul Kruger, had funded not just the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace stadium but had also attracted the Leopards rugby team and the local footballing Crocodiles, the Dikwena.
That’s not all he does of course. He also provides a hot meal every day for every school child in his 14,000 square kilometre kingdom and provides them with one of five sporting activities every day. Though mining has had it’s troubles locally with migrant labour, the Phokeng people enjoy the benefits of living on platinum-soaked land.
Becker showed me a 35-year plan which pointed the way ahead for the kingdom, with the newly-built sports campus turned in to a High Performance Centre to rival Pretoria and Potchefstroom, high school matriculants outperforming all rivals and, incredibly, even plans for a future Olympic games.
And in the middle of this mighty platinum-enriched portfolio? The team once known as Khakhu Fast XI, an amateur outfit formed in 1937 170km north-east of Polokwane, then Pietersburg.
In 1998, owner Joseph “Tycoon” Mapfulagasha took the team 30 km south to Mapate and they became the Silver Stars. At the turn of the century, the Silver Stars forged a link with the old white club Highlands Park with Larry Brookstone purchasing half the club.
After four years in the National First Division, Silver Stars were promoted to the PSL in 2003–04 ending 11th, 7th and 5th in their first three seasons in South Africa’s top flight.
And that’s where King Leruo stepped in. In 2006, the Royal Bafokeng Nation signed a sponsorship deal with Silver Stars and the club moved home from Peter Mokabe in Polokwane to the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
That season, they beat Ajax Cape Town 3–1 in the first Telkom Knockout league cup final an finished second in the PSL. King Leruo promptly bought 51 percent fo the shares and changed the club’s name to Platinum Stars.
In 2008, Platinum Stars became the first South African side to beat the Egypt’s continental giants Al Ahly, though their 2-1 home leg triumph in the African Champions League was overturned in Cairo.
That season, they finished 10th in the PSL, 13th in 2008–09 and 14th in 2009–10. The Royal Bafokeng Nation brought the rest of the club’s shares from Brookstone and Mapfulagasha in November 2008, and moved training and administration from Modderfontein Sports Club in Johannesburg to the sparkling Bafokeng Sports Campus.
Head coach Owen de Gama came and went amid considerable fuss and the club turned to little-known former Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach Johnson this season – and Dikwena have hardly looked back.
The Q2-clinching 1-0 win against Gavin Hunt’s hardy SuperSport on Saturday was their ninth win in ten and they are now just one point behind overall PSL leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Johnson insists: "I think it's still early to start thinking about the title, we are building for the future, a trophy would be a bonus.
"Our main objective is to bring more bums on seats at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium and the only way to do that is to play exciting football. This is what we are currently doing, trying to bring in more supporters."
If he carries on the way he is, Johnson may just manage that. With a little help from King Leruo and the Platinum-enriched Bafokeng.



  1. Please tell Kermit Erasmus to go and fuck his mothers cunt instead of critizing referees.

    Who the fuck does he think he is?

    Thinks because he played in Dutch SECOND division, he can come here and open his faggot mouth and act like a big shot?

    Rather than talk about refs, he should train more ... cos I have no idea why so many coaches rate him highly. Be honest, for a striker his scoring record and assists stats are pathetic.

  2. OMG ... have you heard about the Leopards players crying like little bitches because Palmer swore them during training?

    What a bunch of fucking pussies!! Seriously, if they are playing shit, then what do they expect?

  3. Ya neh the psl has fallen a long way, the only solution is for sa teams to win caf tournaments and also afcon. Its a shame to have one representative in champions league. It all reflects on bafana bafana. Let's play our role as supprters and encourage our players.