Nelson Mandela Bay soccer fraternity mourns Boya Chetty

Community leader Boya Chetty
Community leader Boya Chetty
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

The Nelson Mandela Bay soccer fraternity is mourning the loss of well-known soccer personality, businessman and community leader Boya Chetty, who died in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday after a long illness.

Chetty, 73, of Malabar, had been in an induced coma at Netcare Greenacres Hospital for some time.

A prominent figure in the fishing industry, he had a wide circle of friends in both business and sport.

Former northern areas soccer player, sports writer and longtime friend Mogan Segadavan said Chetty – a former Herald Citizen of the Year winner in the business category – would be sorely missed.

“Boya came from a poor background and never forgot that,” Segadavan said.

“He was a philanthropist and helped out in the community when he could.

“He was certainly a [prominent figure] in the community.”

Segadavan said Chetty had played a significant role in soccer in the city and, more specifically, in the northern areas.

He had also played a key role in one of the biggest and most successful soccer tournaments the region had ever hosted previously – the Easter Soccer Tournament.

“He was also an ardent member of the ANC.

“And he built up the business, Mayibuye Fishing, from scratch in 1978,” Segadavan said.

“We had been to Cape Town to buy fish.

“When we got back, he resigned from where we were working and then started the business – and he was very successful in business.”

Chetty was also made a life member of Safa-NMB (South African Football Association-Nelson Mandela Bay).

In 1967, Segadavan and Chetty, who were members of Shamrocks FC – which was suffering a dire lack of funds at the time – initiated a Miss Shamrocks Ball to raise funds.

This eventually grew to become the Diwali Queen Competition in 1972 and was open to all young girls in the city.

The competition filled Shamrocks’ coffers, with Chetty playing an important role in the success of the venture, which ran until 2007.

Segadavan said no funeral or memorial service arrangements had been made yet. The Port Elizabeth Sports Legends Trust (PESLT) – which once honoured Chetty for his contributions in their annual honours programme – also expressed its condolences.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of sports’ most dedicated and committed personalities.

“Boya was honoured by our trust for his involvement of more than 45 years in football, where he served at all levels,” the trust said in a statement.

“The game has lost a wonderful servant and we are extremely happy to have had the opportunity to have honoured this wonderful man, particularly while he was still alive.”

According to the trust, Chetty first became involved in soccer while playing for the Eagles in Walmer Road, South End, in the early 1960s.

The club merged with Shamrocks FC – with which Chetty would later become synonymous – in 1965.

Chetty, who became the manager of Shamrocks in 1978, played against soccer giants like Blackpool, Hotspurs, Swallows and Rangers.

He was the chair of the organising committee for Nelson Mandela’s 78th birthday in the Bay.

One of his highlights was meeting Nelson Mandela after his release from prison.

Shamrocks FC president Nithia Pillay said he and the club members were “speechless” at Chetty’s passing.

“He has done so much for soccer and the community, fundraising for the club and helping the new generation of players.

“He was constantly trying to uplift the club and those around him.

“He was certainly an allrounder, assisting everywhere.

“He always made time for others and will be sorely missed,” Pillay said.

Former Bay mayor and Safa president Danny Jordaan said: “The football fraternity is in mourning following the passing on of Boya Chetty.”

He described Chetty as “a football person through and through”.

Quoting Bay football officials, Jordaan said Chetty had served the sport until his death.

“Here is an individual who dedicated his entire life to the game of football.

“It is a sad day for the sport,” he said.