Thanda Royal Zulu‘s success was not an overnight story

IT has taken eight years – not one – for Thanda Royal Zulu to win promotion to the PSL.

Everyone loves a winner, and the club is now inundated with well-wishers and bandwagon jumpers as they celebrate a remarkable achievement – one that could change the face of the City of uMhlathuze and the King Cetshwayo District.

As they drew ever closer to the prize, so the home crowds grew bigger in number and the accolades began being showered on the club’s technical and management teams.

Everyone wants a piece of Thanda now.

And why not? They are a prime bit of marketing material for any potential sponsor (and let’s hope there will be many reaching for their cheque books).

But it has not always been like this.

Thanda went through some tough, dark years; and as the problems got thicker, so the support got thinner.

For the first five of the past eight years, only Bell Equipment contributed to the huge costs involved in running a professional soccer team.

Thanda has been on the brink of promotion a number of times, and on the edge of relegation as well.

Lack of support

Very few voices of support were heard then, and they battled on gamely.

The club lost their best players at the end of every season and were forced to rebuild from scratch – a blessing in disguise as they unearthed raw local U23 talent, who today have become worthy of PSL status.

Thanda even had a season (2013) where they only just missed promotion after playing three games less than all the top sides – unheard of in any league in the world.

Thanda Chairman Pierre Delvaux fought that injustice all the way, even to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Geneva, Switzerland.

He did this with little or no financial or even vocal support, digging into his own personal funds and the generosity of other private benefactors desperate to keep the club alive.

There were numerous temptations to sell it, as debts increased and creditors squeezed.

But he and the few who stood at his side withstood the easy way out.

Even now, the wonderful financial contributions from the City and District are nowhere near enough to sustain a club of this stature, much less grow it.

I feel saddened that invitations to Thanda celebrations in the past week have all but ignored the person (Chairman and sole Director) who almost single-handedly kept the club alive against all odds, and in whose face many doors were slammed, however politely.

Thank you, Pierre Delvaux, for believing in the club, the coaches, the players and the management.

Thank you for bringing PSL soccer to the region.

It’s time to lift the burden off his broad and bloodied shoulders.

Dave Savides

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