Absa Premiership legend Roger De Sa has reminded us that local football has come a long way before enjoying its current financial stability.
The Cape Umoya Director was once a coach/CEO at Wits University before the Bidvest money, and the experience is not without a rather special story of perseverance.
“Look‚ I think I go back to my days at Wits already in my mid-30s when I had to be a player-coach‚ and then I became a CEO at the same time for two years‚” de Sa said via TimesLIVE.
“And I really got thrown in at the deep end‚ to learn about the nitty-gritties of a football club and how to run a club on very little money at the time.
“I can tell you a story that I used to have a company car‚ an old Mercedes-Benz. It was the coach’s car - the E300 series‚ I forget what (year) model it was‚ 1990-something.
“In my first month we couldn’t pay salaries because the grant from the league was late. And I remember driving around with George Mogotsi‚ the kit man at the time and now a director‚ out to a car dealership to sell the Mercedes for R50‚000.
“We brought back the cash. And then we picked the starting XI‚ and we put the salaries aside to pay those players‚ so that we could play Kaizer Chiefs that weekend. And we beat Chiefs.
“But then the coach-cum-CEO had no car. So I drove a little mini for the next six months.
“I think that year I got Coach of the Year‚ and the prize money was pretty good‚ and I was able to buy my own car instead of driving around in a club car.
“But those are the hard times that you learn‚ and start going‚ ‘OK‚ this is not just me‚ it’s a whole club‚ a whole industry and everybody makes a living out of it’. Those days I already knew how tough it was to be in this industry.
“To be honest‚ it’s actually become easier. And credit to the PSL for what they’ve done with the TV rights‚ and grants and so on.
“ ... But there’s a fun side to it. When you see the youngsters who come through and make it.
“You almost feel like a school teacher‚ where you see a kid grow up and eventually graduating and getting a good job‚ and then you see him a few years later driving a nice car enjoying a good life. Those rewards are priceless,” concluded the former Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town coach.
Meanwhile, De Sa’s Umoya are sitting just a few points above relegation in the GladAfrica Championship, with the highly-rated young coach Mahier Davids having taken over from Dominic Isaacs mid-season.