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Wits football grandstand renamed after legendary administrator, Ronnie Schloss

- Wits University

Schloss honoured for his lifelong commitment to the Wits Football Club and to the sport in South Africa.

The main grandstand at the Wits Football Stadium has been renamed after former Wits football player, administrator and life president of the PSL, Professor Ronnie Schloss.

Grandstand of the Wits Footbal Stadium renamed after legendary football administrator, Ronnie Schloss.

In a renaming ceremony to honour Schloss, who is seen as a true legend in the South African football history, where he was instrumental in playing a major transformative role, Schloss was honoured by members of Wits University, his former colleagues, and leaders in the national football community. The application to rename the stand after Schloss was made by Kabungo Mubanga from Wits Sport Administration.

“Today, we unveil the Ronnie Schloss stand that serve as a beacon of inspiration to all of us who pass through these gates. Let it stand as a testament to the transformative impact that one individual with dedication and determination, kindness and love for this university and this country can achieve,” said Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University.

Schloss started his career at Wits Football Club as a student in 1962, in an environment where rugby and cricket were the dominant sports at the University. With his passion for the sport, he quickly rose to become Secretary and then Chairman of the club, and with a vision of transformation set a new course for the club.

A famous story being told of Schloss is when, after lacking an official coach, and with the club’s finances being in dire straits in 1962, Wits was scheduled to play Bloemfontein Celtic in the National Football League (NFL).

Schloss, then a young quantity surveying student, recalled that at the time, the situation for the club was so bad, that he had to go into the Wits canteen and ask students to sign up for the game, with a promise of a train trip to Bloemfontein.

The team pitched up in a variety of footwear and was thrashed 17-0.

That game, however, was the start of Schloss’ career, and for Wits bid to become a force in South African soccer.

Speaking in a video message, Dr Kaizer Motaung, chairman of Kaizer Chiefs, said Schloss has been serving the football community for over 60 years beyond measure. “I have personally benefitted from many years of collaboration with you,” he said.

Schloss, Motaung and Dr Irvin Khoza, chairman of Orlando Pirates, share a long history going back to the origins of the Wits Football club, where Wits was the first team with white players ever to play in Soweto.

“At the time, we could not enter Soweto with a team of only white players, so Kaizer and Irvin lent us players to make up a mixed team,” said Schloss. One of those players turned out to be South African football hero, Marks Maponyane.

The mixed Wits team faced tremendous hostilities during the apartheid years, and often had to make difficult choices. The black and white players could not travel by train together, or enter a restaurant together. From the onset, the team decided to rent their own bus, and only go to places where they can go together as a team.

“We decided we either go as a unit, or we don’t go,” said Schloss.

“We lived an interesting and different life. We taught people how to mix and appreciate the cultures of the other. That was the strength of our team.”  

Raymond Hack, former CEO of the South African Football Association and lifelong friend of Schloss said Schloss was never a forceful administrator.

“He is a friend of football. We are standing here today because of the massive contribution that Ronnie has made.

At the event, a plaque and the new name of the Ronnie Schloss stand was unveiled. The stand will undergo renovation as part of the upgrading of the Wits Anglo American Digital Dome, that is situated right next to the stand.

“Prof Ronnie Schloss’ journey with Wits FC is not about a tale of past glories, it is a story that continues to unfold. His dedication to our football community remains steadfast. He continues to contribute to the development of South African football, ensuring the legacy of Wits University Football Club, that he leaves in our hearts for our future players and fans,” said Vilakazi.