Breathing new life into Mangaung sports

Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula with the founder of Bloemfontein Celtic Dr Petrus Molemela and Free State Premier Ace Magashule at the opening of the new stadium

Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula with the founder of Bloemfontein Celtic Dr Petrus Molemela and Free State Premier Ace Magashule at the opening of the new stadium

Speaking at the opening ceremony, which also marked the inaugural home team match at the stadium, the minister gave more than his thumbs up to the project.

“Today I am proud that this project has been finalised. Such an investment is a great achievement bringing together people and teams, for which I am very grateful. The addition of an Olympic sized swimming pool to this centre will complement it and it must be made available to everyone,” he said. The R340-million, multi- purpose stadium will be the home of Bloemfontein Celtic and includes soccer, track and multiple sports facilities. “Facilities like this one mean we can also develop talent and create the next generation of young winners while also benefitting the community as whole.”

He said: “Today brings me here, with the premier and his MECs and the mayor and I must say that you have done an excellent job in Mangaung and I am in no doubt that you are a bunch of winners. You have become a light for us when it was dark.”

“This is the best club in the country. This stadium is going to be a slaughterhouse and the Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns need to beware. This stadium is going to produce a bunch of winners and a bunch of losers.”

“Renaming this stadium after Dr Molemela is an honour that he has deserved. Comrade Max [Tshabalala], I thank you for taking the reins of this club of South Africa. I believe in the Bloemfontein Celtics and may you win the premier league this year.”

Drawing laughter and cheers from the crowd, Mbalula said: “Now I promise you an Olympic-sized swimming pool so that you don’t drown — and so that you train the class of tomorrow. You have the support of myself and my department.”

Free State Premier Ace Magashule officially announced the name change of the stadium from the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, to honour 82-year-old Dr Rantlai Petrus Molemela, who is Celtic’s Honorary Life President.

This was an emotional and exciting day for the founder of the Bloemfontein Celtics and past president of the club, Molemela who when introduced to the crowd, was honoured as “a leader and life president.”

Speaking about the re-built stadium being re-named after him, Molemela said that speaking is very different to actually taking action. “My thanks to Mr Magashule, Bloemfontein and the community and I consider myself fortunate enough to be bestowed this honour while I am still alive.”

He added: “You must respect the Free State, no matter where you are from. Don’t forget that whichever direction you are going, you have to come through this state.”