Last week Saturday morning the local football fraternity woke to news of the passing of former Chippa United and Thanda Royal Zulu head coach, Roger Sikhakhane. To pay homage to the fallen soldier, SportPesa ambassador Doctor Khumalo took time to reminisce on the times spent with Sikhakhane and the bond that they shared in this week’s Clubhouse column.
“This week’s column will have to take a different direction as I’m dedicating it to a dear friend and colleague who sadly passed away on the weekend, coach Roger Sikhakhane. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, the whole Royal Eagles family and the football fraternity at large. What a gentleman he was! It is a huge loss and it has really hit me hard because Roger was a personal friend of mine.
“We’ve lost a soldier, a giant, a mentor, a coach, a servant and student of the beautiful game. The last time I spoke to Roger was about a month ago, although we were in constant contact. He’s someone who’d keep in touch and exchange ideas on our job and even on a personal level. Whenever I was going to Kwa-Zulu Natal, Roger would always host me and he always wanted to know whenever I was visiting that part of the country, whether it was a game we were playing or on my personal level. We even did the Level One SAFA coaching course together and I think that’s where our friendship took off.
“When he was still at Thanda Royal Zulu, while I was still at Kaizer Chiefs, whenever there was a player I suggested to give a trial, Roger wouldn’t hesitate. That’s why Khotso Malope, Zitha Macheke and other Chiefs development players found themselves at Thanda when we wanted them to get game-time elsewhere. Bobby Motaung can attest to this because he was always involved in our discussions. Even when we went to play in Durban, Bobby, myself and Roger would spend time together and he was always the first coach we thought of whenever we needed to loan players out.
“Whenever such discussions happened between the technical team and the management, Bobby would immediately suggest I call Roger and ask him to help have a look at the player/s in question, which helped both his team in terms of depth and our team in terms of game-time. A very humble gentleman who always called to check up on me, especially if there was anything happening. Even when I was leaving Chiefs, he called to say, “My brother, are you ok? Are you sure this is the right decision for you? If that’s the case, my brother you must know I always have your back. It is time for you to explore and if you need anything, I’m here.” That’s the brotherly relationship I had with the man and we talked about everything on and off the field.”
To read more the stories that Khumalo shared in the SportPesaClubhouse column, check out this week’s edition of Soccer Laduma, issue 1098.