Black Leopards FC supporters and players are disappointed that the team has been relegated to the amateur league. This comes after spending more than two decades in the top leagues.
The Thohoyandou-based team was demoted from the National First Division league, alongside their rivals, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila FC, after losing their games last weekend. There are two more NFD games still to play.
Founded in 1983 as Tshipako Black Leopards FC, the team changed hands several times over the years. It was eventually bought by businessman David Thidiela in 1998.
The “Lidoda duvha” owner is disappointed that following a twenty-two-year run in professional leagues, the team now has to play in the amateur league, the ABC Motsepe league.
Thidiela says, “I can’t say anything now, I’ll talk to the public when I’m sober, it’s a shock. I cannot talk now.”
Players say their livelihoods will be negatively affected.
Black Leopards player, Wiseman Baloyi says, “It’s very disappointing because four years is not a small time and the team has done a lot for us and our families, and the community at large. So for now, we’re just down and the only option for us is to move on and try to be strong.”
Black Leopards player, Modou Jobe says, “We wanted to at least build our names in the history books of Black Leopards, but to be honest it’s a very sad moment, especially when you’re a foreigner, the expectations are high playing back home for my national team and it might affect me in the national team.”
Some soccer supporters are disappointed that only four Limpopo-based teams remain in the NFD.
Black Leopards supporter, Rendani Mulaudzi says, “We were hoping that maybe in far Limpopo, especially in Vhembe we can have more teams participating in the league so that it can boast our economy, especially those who are staying in Vhembe, selling fruits food and so on.”
The Limpopo Department of Economic Development says the relegation is a major setback to the province’s economy.
Limpopo Economic Development MEC Rodgers Monam says, “We were quite happy when the teams like Black leopards were playing, how the stadiums were full, but over and above how some were benefiting, it’s a drawback in our case because we just do not take it as a sport for entertainment but we also take it as a sport tourism.”
Other former professional teams such as Jomo Cosmos and Santos were also previously demoted from the PSL and the NFD to the amateur league.
Original Story by www.sabcnews.com
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