Award Winner 2011
OUR UNSUNG SPORTS HEROES AND HEROINES
Ntate Nkope Solomon Monedi
Our first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports in Atteridgeville, the late Uncle Nipper Monedi, is one of the many unsung sporting heroes in the community. He was given the nickname “Nipper” by Super Shongwe, who grew up with him, because of his small “nip-size” stature. He was a physical fitness fanatic who almost on a daily basis, pounded the streets and sports fields of Bantule, Newclare, in his youthful days, and later of Atteridgeville, exercising to maintain prime physical condition for devoted participation in a variety of his beloved sports. He did all this even in his advanced age.
Uncle Nipper, as he was popularly known, carried a well-groomed and conditioned body of small stature, up to the end of his life, and was still a quiet, soft spoken sage, who would share his voluminous knowledge of sports only when probed. A machine-gun-speed boxer, athletics sprinter, football striker, multitalented coach of note and veteran self-taught golfer, Uncle Nipper had unselfishly shared his knowledge, skills and experience with many who were his peers and those who came under his wing and tutelage. The shy legendary veteran, small giant, in the mould of Baby Jake Matlala, also helped at schools with physical training in all sports.
He was born on the 1 June 1929 in Mathibestad in a family of four brothers. He grew up in Bantule, Newclare and schooled at St Theresa. He married Lydia Mama, nee Mogashoa, in 1957 and were blessed with two sons, three daughters and nine grandchildren who were also versatile in sports. He was a formidable boxer who fought against the then much feared champions like Jersey Moroke of the Lady Selborne Boxing Club. As an award-winning athlete, he was a 4/6’ sprinter trained by Feathers Letsoge and was rivalled by others like Boy Makamoto Sello.
From school football, Uncle Nipper graduated to BantuleCallies Football Club where he was the smallest but prolific striker in the senior team that included Bra Super, Sweetie Mohosoa, SandoBaloyi and others. Other Clubs he played for are Bentry Vultures, Saints of Lady Selborne and Methodist of Atteridgeville where he played with Harold and McKenzie, the Mamosebo twin brothers, He also had the honour of playing against the famous Home Stars’ Steve Kalamazoo Mokone. He was at times picked to play for the Pretoria and District Football Association against other Associations in Durban, the then Lourenco Marques and Lesotho. Uncle Nipper later became a physical trainer of the professional side of Bantule Callies which, amongst others, boasted players like Lucas “Materpieces” Moripe, Potjo “Let-Them-Dance” Molala, PatickDibetla, MantshaDioke, BantalaShigo, Chiza Sibanda, George “Mastermind” Kgobe who while enduring his hard training, would complain that they were being trained as if they were heavyweight boxers.
Bantule Callies, which was originally based in Bantule, later changed the name to Bantu Callies after moving to Atteridgebville. Then when they were promoted to professional ranks, they became known as the popular Pretoria Callies.
As a golfer, Uncle Nipper started as a caddie at Pretoria Golf Club, Pretoria West. They played at a dusty bumpy self-made golf course behind Saulsville Railway Station together with veterans that included Bra Super, King Manyurola, Stanley Makapane, Thipe and Butter Chabangu. Their protégés were Norman Nzama, Methi Sithole, Jim Mmutle, Teddy Kgagamedi, SyMaloba and others. He spent his twilight days mostly watching all sports on television with Tiger Woods remaining his all-time hero and strongly believing “The Tiger will return with vengeance!”