The ceremony that led Petrus Molemela to his final resting place took almost the entire day due to the large number of speakers.
Politicians‚ soccer administrators‚ business leaders and ordinary citizens from the Free State and beyond came in large numbers to pay their last respects.
In his condolence speech‚ Free State premier Ace Magashule said Ntate Molemela was a humble servant of football in the province and his memory must be preserved for future generations.
“We thank his humility as a businessman and his undying love for sports that lifted football in the province‚” he said.
“His spirit will live with us forever and his memory must be preserved so that children in the future can learn from him and the sacrifices he made for Celtic.
“As government‚ we have to support teams with money because they are raising the flag of the province. People know this province not because of us but because of teams like Celtic.”
Molemela‚ who was known for his outbursts at referees and was nickname “Whitehead” because of his grey hair‚ died at the age of 83 last Sunday.
He was instrumental in purchasing the status of Mangaung United which was later changed to Bloemfontein Celtic in 1975 before he turned the team into one of the powerhouses in South African football.
He was in charge of the club for 26 years until he sold his shares to former Celtic player Jimmy Augousti in 2001 following the team’s relegation to the First Division after years of financial difficulties.
Premier Soccer League and Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza‚ who has known Molemela for many years‚ said he remembered him as a selfless man.
“It is important for us all to unde
rstand and put into perspective Ntate Molemela’s contribution to our nation.
“Lying here today is a selfless man who co
ntributed a lot to this country and we must celebrate that.
“His participation in football was not because he did not have anything better to do‚ but he did it because it was the right thing to do to give hope to the people‚” said Khoza.