Williams not getting enough recognition

BAFANA captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams speaks during a public address at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in February 2024. | MICHAEL SHERMAN

BAFANA captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams speaks during a public address at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in February 2024. | MICHAEL SHERMAN

Published Apr 20, 2024


IT IS a travesty that Ronwen Williams has not made it as finalist to the South African Sports Awards. But then again, such awards are almost always subjective, the fact that they are adjudicated by independent judges notwithstanding.

In the year in review, few South African sportsmen shone as bright as the Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper. For him not to be on the nominees’ list for any of the awards he is illegible for – Sportsman of the Year, Sports Star of the Year – smacks of a serious oversight by the judging panel.

Still, that should not be allowed to take away from William’s great run, which has seen both club and country enjoying incredible runs.

That South Africa’s national team is now back on the top table of African football is largely due to Williams’ heroics between the sticks, and the fact that he was awarded the best goalkeeper accolade at the Africa Cup of Nations is testament to this.

Williams’ shot-stopping abilities, his command of his box, the way he got his defensive line to shape up and his overall confidence in his abilities played a crucial role in Bafana reaching the Afcon semi-final, after many years of failing to do so.

More than that, he performed spectacularly in saving kicks from the penalty spot to see to it that the national team brought home a medal (bronze) for the first time since the 2000 tournament.

In starring for Bafana, Williams was merely continuing with what he had been doing for his club, leading them to major victories. Sundowns’ continued dominance of the domestic scene in the year in review had Williams at its centre – the man from Gqeberha playing the role of captain with aplomb as he cajoled and encouraged his teammates from the back, while also being the main initiator of attacking moves.

And of course he was an almost impenetrable wall in goals, as Sundowns won the domestic championship for the umpteenth time.

As if that was not enough, Williams went on to star in the inaugural African Football League (AFL), which Sundowns won. There too, he walked away with the best goalkeeper of the tournament award.

The Brazilians are playing in the semi-final of the CAF Champions League for the second successive season, and it is – yes you guessed it – courtesy of their captain and goalkeeper’s exploits.

Rulani Mokwena’s team have let in just two goals in their 10 matches en route to tonight’s clash with Esperance – it is an impressive record to attain against some of the continent’s top teams.

And to do that while also shutting out the strikers on the domestic front, ensuring that Sundowns will win yet another league title, is surely a feat worth recognising.

But no, the judges for the South African Sports Awards did not think so. Incredibly, Williams did not even make the cut for the People’s Choice Award, with Percy Tau being chosen ahead of him instead. Whoever made that choice clearly has not followed the game in the year in review, for Tau had a wretched time and the outstanding footballer in the country has been Ronwen Williams.

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