When I started Soccer Laduma almost 24 years ago (it will be 24 years in January), I knew that we would be a success, but I never thought that it would have the incredible impact that it has. I just wanted us to do our absolute honest best to make football supporters happy and for the readers to feel respected and loved. That has been the foundation of our huge growth over the years.
The journey has been a gift to me and my heart is filled with gratitude and love that I have been able to be part of this wonderful shared journey with you. It is also quite ironic that we eventually even took over our main rivals Kick Off and that has turned into another beautiful relationship. Kick Off became our adopted child, but loved equally.
But like all journeys, there is always an end. I recently sold the last of my shares to my partners Media24 and, as of 1 September, Clint Roper took over from me in being responsible for all matters pertaining to Soccer Laduma and Kick Off.
I officially only leave at the end of the financial year, but in the best interests of a smooth transition, it has been decided that Clint should take over all the duties while I am still around, so that he will be able to use me as a sounding board if necessary. Clint has been at Soccer Laduma for over 20 years and eats, sleeps and lives the brand. I have no doubt whatsoever that Clint will continue to grow and develop Soccer Laduma in the manner in which it deserves. I have absolute trust and faith in Clint and the team. You are in good hands, of that you can be sure. Everyone working at Soccer Laduma and Kick Off knows that you, the reader, are our boss and that our only responsibility is to make you happy. Today, because of your support, Soccer Laduma and Kick Off are leaders in print, digital and podcasting. Clint and his team, across all our platforms, are dedicated to ensuring that we continue to understand your needs and to deliver on that to the highest of our abilities. That’s a promise that they have made.
Football has been a gift to me. Like most of you, I am in love with the game and have been since I first felt the joy of that round ball at my feet when I could barely walk. Growing up, my only wish in life was to be a professional player. When it eventually happened, I realised that love, coupled with absolute desire, passion and hard work, pays off. This has been the basis of Soccer Laduma’s growth. Soccer then took me to a new world. As a white guy in apartheid South Africa, the beautiful game took me into the townships. This was in the late 70s, early 80s. It changed my life forever. Firstly, I fell in love with the style of football. It spoke to me and so did the music. Most of all, meeting the people in the township had a profound effect on me. Their positivity and kindness, despite apartheid, was overwhelming. Which leads me to one of the very many gifts that soccer and Soccer Laduma have given me.
The biggest has been to mix, every single day, with people from completely different backgrounds and to be able to see life in South Africa through their eyes. It has taught me humility and gratitude. It is also clear that white privilege in SA still exists and, like poverty, gender-based violence, corruption and crime, it too must end. Through Soccer Laduma, I have met many wonderful people like Banks Setlhodi, Ace Ntsoelengoe and Sergio Dos Santos. They, amongst others, were giants in supporting us in the early days. Banks and Sergio remain great friends (of mine) to this day. Ace is sorely missed. Doctor Khumalo is another gentleman that has blown me away with his integrity. It’s been a joy to see the strides the PSL has made in the last 24 years under the outstanding leadership of Dr. Irvin Khoza. It has also been wonderful to see Mamelodi Sundowns, under Patrice Motsepe and Pitso Mosimane, becoming a powerhouse in Africa. Interacting with the readers has been one of my greatest pleasures. There are countless readers that I personally engage with on a weekly basis. Their feedback and ideas are probably the biggest reasons for Soccer Laduma’s success and will continue to be so.
There are many more thank yous to make to so many people and I will address them at a later stage when I write my final farewell letter.
Cover price increase
Thanks so much for those assuring words, Peter. Like you said, our bosses – the readers – are in good hands and, as a team, we will continue to deliver on our mandate.
On a rather different note, we have all been faced by the Coronavirus that has ravaged the economy, not to mention our lives, for six months now. We are still trying to find ways to recover from the traumatic experiences that came with this pandemic. It is therefore a really difficult time for all of us and we humble ourselves to you, our readers, with a big favour to ask.
Due to this pandemic, we’ve witnessed big newspapers fold and some are on the verge of closing shop. It has always been because of our readers’ unconditional support that we remain on top of our game and are keeping afloat. We believe it will be because of our readers that we keep this publication going and growing, notwithstanding the economic challenges. We sadly have to increase the Soccer Laduma cover price from R4,00 to R5,00 as of next week’s edition (23 September). This is something that we don’t like doing because we’ve always managed our price increase very well but, this time around, it has been beyond our control and we hope you will understand and continue to support us because we depend on you. Never, in the history of this publication, have we been forced to increase the price this much but, as mentioned earlier, it has been completely out of our hands. We really hope that you will understand and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.