Community mourns talented sportsman

James “Jamo” Smith
James “Jamo” Smith

The Nelson Mandela Bay sports community is in mourning following the sudden death of multi-talented sportsman James “Jamo” Smith on Friday.

Smith, 56, made his name as a player at Hotspurs AFC where he earned a reputation as one of the best players in the country.

He joined Hotspurs as a junior and stuck with them right up to the senior structures.

He then went on to play professional soccer with Glendevon FC in Cape Town, Swaraj FC in Johannesburg and then in the NSL with Highland Spurs and Mthatha Bucks. He also played in the PSL with PE Blackpool.

Once he had completed his playing career, Smith put back into the game and qualified as a level 2 Safa coach.

Last season, he coached Sibanye FC in the local ABC Motsepe league.

Former professional, experienced coach and Safa technical officer Boebie Williams paid tribute to Smith.

“He was one of the most talented players in the country. Myself, Greg Kops and James were spotted at an inter-provincial tournament by Patty Dolley and we were signed up by Glendevon FC, who were based in Cape Town, to play in the Federation Pro League.

“James was a very humble person who went on to become one of the best players in the country.”

Former Hotspurs player and current NMU head of soccer Mark Tommy said he had recently met Smith to discuss growing the sport in the area.

“James was such a gifted athlete who excelled and obtained provincial colours in football, cricket and athletics.

“He was the only jumper able to execute the ‘Western roll’ jumping technique,” Tommy said.

“Jamo and my brother Ignatius were striking partners for Hotspurs and were known as the ‘terrible twins’.

“Jamo’s death is a huge shock to me as we recently shared ideas on how to develop and grow football in the Nelson Mandela Bay area.”

Former Mthatha Bucks star Nigel Dixon called Smith a “genius” with the soccer ball at his feet.

“A true legend has passed on. It was a great privilege and honour to have had the opportunity to have rubbed shoulders with one of PE’s best, both on and off the field. A genius on the field and a humble gentleman off,” Dixon said.

PE Sports Legends Trust trustee Graeme Sauls said Smith had become an icon in the northern areas.

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of yet another sporting legend. James was a remarkable allround sportsman who excelled at all sports and is not only a sporting icon but a Schauderville icon,” Sauls said.

“After his playing days he went into coaching to impart his knowledge to all the young talented players in the community and left his mark there as well. Our condolences go out not only to his family but to the Hotspurs Football Club and sporting community at large.”

Smith is survived by his wife Alfreda, three children and two grandchildren.