It seems this is the month of sporting miracles. First, I completed the Makana Green Fun Run; then Leicester City won the Premier League; then the EP Kings beat the Bulls. Finally, on Saturday, Salisbury House – a residence with just 32 boys – won the men’s Rhodes inter-residence futsal tournament played on the court next to the hockey astro.
As a Salisbury man myself, I played in goal for the first game, which saw us beat College House on penalties after a 1-1 draw. I then had to leave due to academic commitments, but my res stayed on right until the end – crushing a team made up of Oppidan (off-campus) students 4-1 in the final.
I could make this story about myself and the two saves I made against College, but after my heroics at the Makana Fun Run, perhaps I need to let someone else take the limelight for a little while.
For me, the standout story of the weekend was the determination and leadership shown by Salisbury’s own former Kaizer Chiefs Under-19 star, Tiisetso “German” Maifo.
For days before the game, he was in my ear. “Mister Solms, are you ready?”, “Mister Solms, tell the boys to get some rest on Friday night. We don’t want them drinking too much!”
Less than two years ago, German was in the ranks of what was then easily the most powerful South African football club. He could have been forgiven for losing his love for the game when he left it all behind in order to study at Rhodes in pursuit of a career in accounting.
But he never did. And he treats every friendly tournament as if he were running out for Bayern Munich – a dream I don’t think he’s ever quite given up on.
I don’t usually play in goal, but German made me feel safe. Whenever I had the ball, he always somehow found the energy to run back from whatever position he was playing in (all of them, really) to run back; provide me with an option for a pass; and tell me “Mister Solms, relax!”
Some credit must go to the rest of our team for ensuring that we always had enough players even though we are a small residence and some of us had to come and go throughout the day, and German reminded us as much after the game on the Salisbury House Facebook group.
“Guys, we can achieve all that we want if only we stop taking the back seat and get things done ourselves for us,” he said.
“Thanks a lot to the participants who signed up and to Vuyolwethu [Makabeni] and Mbongeni [Nikani], who responded quickly to our emergency call for brotherly help [when we were short of players]. Let's maintain the standard, gents. Participate more, win more, and bring more chemistry into our brotherhood.”
In this month of sporting miracles, one can only wonder what Rhodes sport could be like if everybody from the most senior administrator to the most junior student had German’s attitude.
We’ll never know if we never have the courage to try.