THEY may be known as the “Mayor’s Team” but Peace Lovers Football Club from Veeplaas have proven they are not to be trifled with.
This year they won the Veeplaas league title for the second consecutive year and pride themselves on placing either first or second in the league over the years.
They narrowly missed out on promotion to the Castle league, which would have seen them playing at the next level.Before becoming the executive mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Zanoxolo Wayile helped found the club and is a honorary life president.
Co-founder Mmeli Coko said even before he became “famous”, Wayile was helping recruit players and his first contribution to the club was in 1996 when they formally joined the Veeplaas Local Football Association.
“He is very down-to-earth and he treats us like anyone else – his friends.
“His involvement has been phenomenal. Even when he is out of town for a few days he will always call and check up on how the team did.”
At present Peace Lovers have about 25 senior players and 18 junior players between 14 and 18.
Wayile said the clubs’ initial intention was to keep the youth, who were involved in the liberation struggle, motivated now that the struggle was over.
“Substance abuse and crime caused concern.
“I have been the president ever since it was formed,” said Wayile.He added he played a key role in ensuring the development of the team from day one together with the Coko brothers Mmeli, Zakhe, Vuyani and Kaizer.
“The involvement of the private sector in community sport can go a long way in addressing the socio-economic challenges we have as a country,” said Wayile.
“Sport for the youth plays a huge developmental role and in fact saves them from self-destructive tendencies.”
The mayor said he played rugby – mostly as a flank forward, number 8, flyhalf, and centre for Red Lions during the ‘80s – and that the Peace Lovers training sessions were sometimes used for political meetings to outsmart security forces.
He added the philosophy of the team was to foster a culture of human solidarity among players and their families through players and families helping one another. They have been there for one another in key moments of their lives including providing support for ceremonies to celebrate circumcision (imigidi) and when they lost loved ones.
The mayor has been an active developer of soccer and netball both in his private and official capacity.About 17 years ago he ran tournaments in Alicedale and Paterson during the Easter holidays. He has also run a tournament in Glenmore, inviting teams from around the Peddie area.“One of the boys has recently been signed by a team in Umtata to play in a higher league,” said Wayile.
“When stressed at work I always take time to watch the boys play in the field. I am really passionate about the sport.”