Sibuyile!!!!!! These are the words being echoed by many Moroka Swallows fans, well should I say Swallows FC fans, as they waited in anticipation for the coordinator, MEC of Education in Gauteng Mr Panyaza Lesufi. He rocked up an hour late but the five hundred plus fans that had gathered at the Ipelegeng Community Hall in Soweto waited patiently to hear the good news. The loyal fans came in their numbers. Some were limping and others using walking sticks, while others were intoxicated with the spirit of hope when addressed by Lesufi. Lesufi, a die-hard Swallows fan, had taken it upon himself to rescue the club from rubbish heap of South African football and has been leading a campaign for the last 9 months to restore The Birds to their former glory.
As the programme director introduced the people on stage, Sipho Xulu one of the club’s minority shareholders was introduced as part of management and was met with dissatisfaction, with the fans chanting “makahambe, asimufuni!” Of all the people introduced his introduction was met with so much anger and resistance probably because he was part of the Leon Prins era who they believe landed the team in the rut it ended up in. From winning the MTN8 at the end of 2011, Swallows decline was rapid. Relegated to the National First Division at the end of the 2014/2015 season, the Dube Birds were then relegated to the amateur ranks of the ABC Motsepe league at the end of the 2015/2016 season.
But the dissatisfaction with Xulu soon evaporated when Panyaza stood up to a rapturous reception of clapping, whistling and singing. Lesufi would tell the supporters that a consortium led by him had finally wrestled control of the club from the greedy Prins and now held a 92% share in Swallows with 8% held by minority shareholders. The Dube birds owed the taxmen so much that they decided they’d have to start on a clean slate and register two teams, one in the ABC Motsepe league as Moroka Swallows to act as a feeder team for a financially separate entity in the PSL to be known as Swallows FC. Swallows FC had come about through the sale of Free State Stars.
But some Afropolitans are unhappy that the PSL could allow Swallows to reclaim a top flight birth through the boardroom and not on the football pitch.
Swallows FC will continue to use the Dobsonville stadium as a home venue with Ellis Park as an alternative for bigger games. Lesufi assured the fans that Swallows will no longer be a retirement home because their next order of business will be to attract the best talent.
This announcement left gogos and mkhulus jumping for joy – thankfully no one got a heart attack because I doubt there was an ambulance nearby. One thing for sure the song they sang saying Panyaza is our saviour is true. The MEC has restored the pride of many soccer fans and has maintained the rich history of one of South Africa’s oldest surviving football teams. I look forward to the original Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates and in true Swallows culture, Swayi Swayi Libuyile!