Saturday 19 August 2017, 09:58

South Africa's phases of the Moon

  • Patrick Moon played football in South Africa during Apartheid

  • His sons have since become full internationals

  • “They are reaping the rewards of the sacrifices we made”

Patrick Moon had a reputation as a very good footballer. But the times in which he lived denied him an opportunity his two sons have enjoyed: playing internationally.

During Apartheid, football in South Africa was divided along racial lines, with very little cross-over taking place. There was, however, one professional league that was strictly non-racial: the Federation Pro League, which was affiliated to the South African Council on Sport.

Patrick Moon played as a right winger in the Federation for Maritzburg United, enjoying several successful seasons and winning numerous trophies with the club based in the KwaZulu/Natal province. “Playing in the Federation was not an easy thing,” he recalled as the Moon family sat down with

“We were not allowed to use all facilities as these were racially exclusive and at times my team-mates would have to sneak me into hotels during away trips. We also did not participate in any international football, so the opportunity of going overseas to play never arose.

“But these were sacrifices that many in South Africa made. They all played a part in overcoming the evils of Apartheid and, in hindsight, I am pleased to have made that sacrifice as I think it paved the way for those who came after us.”

Like father, like sons Two of the players who came after him, and benefited from the price players in the Federation paid, are his own sons, Bryce and Ryan. Both now wear the same colours their father did, representing Maritzburg.

“Unfortunately, I never saw my father play as he had stopped by the time I was old enough,” said Bryce. “But the fathers of my friends would tell me about him and one day he took us to the library and we looked through the archives there and saw all the press clippings about him.”

Bryce, who at 31 is 11 years older than Ryan, was the first of the Moon family to play both overseas and for the national team. He enjoyed stints in Republic of Ireland and Greece, while he debuted for the South African national team in 2007 against Botswana.

“Playing for my country has been one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “The other has been playing in the Champions League for Panathinaikos against clubs like Inter Milan, Werder Bremen and Atletico Madrid.”

Ryan has now followed in his brother’s footsteps by breaking into the Bafana Bafana squad.

Unlike Bryce, though, who made a name for himself as a right-back, Ryan leads the line for both Kaizer Chiefs and the national team. Last month, a decade on from his brother’s debut versus Botswana, Ryan made his bow against the same opponents, scoring in a 2-0 win. He followed that up with another in the return leg.

“Playing for the national team is like a dream come true,” said the young forward. “Scoring on my debut made it even more special. I am so proud that I have managed to follow in Bryce’s footsteps. He and my father have always been my biggest influences.

“I feel sad that my father was denied the opportunities that we had, but I am proud that the sacrifice that he and others made allowed me and my brother to achieve our goals and play international football. In a way, he is now able to live his dreams through us.”

Patrick Moon admits that he had tears in his eyes when Bryce was first called up to the national team. “It is something that you dreamt of and now your kids are achieving those dreams of yours,” he explained.

“It is another feeling; it kind of chokes you. They are reaping the rewards of the sacrifices we made and I am proud that I was able to do that for them."