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Premier mourns Free State Stars founder

Staff Reporter

The Free State provincial government has hailed Free State Stars founder Mike Mokoena, who died in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a long battle with cancer, as an outstanding football administrator who was determined to develop the sport.

Premier Sisi Ntombela said in a statement Mokoena used football to bring the people of the Free State together even during the most difficult times faced by the country.

“We mourn with deep sadness a loss of one of our dedicated patriots,” she said.

“Mokoena was able to utilise football as a catalyst for social cohesion in the province.”

Ntombela described him as a football administrator par excellence who had an unwavering commitment towards sport development.

Mokoena, also a businessman, founded the club as Makwane Stars in the rural town of QwaQwa, eastern Free State, in 1977.

Over the years, the team – known by the moniker “Ea Lla Koto” by its multitudes of fans – was to be renamed QwaQwa Stars before it became Free State Stars.

The premier said the team remained a source of inspiration and solace through the early years of post-democratic South Africa.

The club most notably won the Coca-Cola Cup in 1994 and most recently in 2018, the Nedbank Cup, before being relegated from the top-flight Premier Soccer League to the National Soccer League in the 2018/2019 season.

In a separate statement, family spokesperson Sophie Mokoena confirmed the veteran soccer administrator had succumbed to cancer while receiving treatment in Johannesburg.

“He was receiving treatment at Sandton Oncology Clinic when he departed in the early hours of Wednesday. The family will release more details regarding funeral arrangements in the next few days,” read part of the family statement.

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