San Souci bid farewell to coach Murphy

San Souci head of sport, Shafiek Murphy introduced a number of players to the game, including Leigh Fortuin and Leandi Smith.

Sans Souci Girls’ High School
head of sport, Shafiek Murphy was laid to rest last week
following a severe heart attack.

Staff and pupils are still in shock after their popular physical education teacher, died last Tuesday at around 2pm, at Groote Schuur hospital where he was due to have a major surgery.

Murphy was instrumental in developing girls’ rugby in the city prior to his arrival at San Souci. Under his watch, Princeton High, one of two schools in Mitchell’s Plain where he had coached previously, produced the first girls’ team from the area to win a major WP schools’ trophy.

Friends, family and especially the players and coaches whom he interacted with on and off the rugby field, attended his funeral last Friday.

Although he spent less than two years at San Souci and considering that the year was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Murphy left a lasting legacy, said school principal, Ruschda O’Shea.

She said that Murphy was appointed as the head of sport at Sans Souci in January 2019, and immediately set out to improve the fitness levels of the girls for all sport.

“He was a selfless man who never thought it’s impossible to do anything and will be sadly missed by all at Sans Souci,” she said.

“He signed us up for athletics in 2019 and in February this year, Sans Souci won the section we competed in, against schools with boys and girls athletes.

“He introduced rugby at the school and one student was selected for the Western Cape team after only starting rugby three months earlier,” she said.

O’Shea said she remembers him as more than just a coach but an all-rounder who assited in various school activities.

“He was not only a coach or head of sport, he helped with our classroom make over/revamp project and all other projects around school.

“Nothing was ever a problem and he gladly assisted wherever he could. He will be sadly missed by all at Sans Souci,” she said.

Senior women’s team squad member, Leandi Smith also remembers Murphy as more than a coach.

“He was like a father figure to me,” she said. “When I got called up to the provincial side and the national team, he was the first person to come to mind.”

Smith is a member a select group that was invited to a six-week training camp in Stellenbosch later this year, to prepare the national team for next year’s women’s world cup in New Zealand.

“Words cannot explain how much he meant to me. He was my first coach.

“He had a way of spotting potential, even when we did not believe it,” she said.

“I used to tell him, look at my size, look at how small I am. But he just kept on pushing me and I am forever grateful for that, she said.

“It’s amazing to see what he has done to for these girls, not just as players but overall,” said Jeanette Bailey, who worked closely with Murphy during his stint as a coach in Mitchell’s Plain.

She first met Murphy at a coaching clinic, at Newlands, a few years ago.

“Just looking at the players that attended the funeral,” she said, “we have two Springboks and four Western Province players. That’s how much of an impact he had on them.”

Murphy’s eldest daughter, Ayesha Brown, 33, says that her father was admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital two weeks ago to undergo a nine-hour triple bypass operation and had a heart attack, last Monday.

Murphy was buried at the Mowbray Muslim cemetery and leaves behind his wife, three children and three grandchildren, his mother and mother-in-law.

– Additional reporting by
Wesley Ford

Mr Murphy grew up in Woodlands, Mitchells Plain. He married Nawaal and had three children, who are Ayesha, Ismail, 23 and Anneqah,18. He lived in Bo-Kaap with his family before returning back with his family to Mitchells Plain to settle in Westridge.

Ms Brown says her dad was always a sports enthusiast, he played club rugby during his youth at Silvertree Rugby Football Club in Observatory and then later on he went on to coach the next generation of youth at the very same club that he played at.

Former Princeton High girls’ team utility player, Leandi Smith, 21, from Eastridge, who now performs duty on the wing for the SA national side, remembers Murphy as more than just a coach.

Smith, a BA graduate from UWC, is part of a select squad that was invited to a six-week training camp in Stellenbosch later this year, to prepare the national team for next year’s women’s world cup in New Zealand. She was also part of Murphy’s winning squad when rugby was first introduced at Princeton High.

“He was like a father figure to me,” she said. “When I got called up to the provincial side and the national team, he was the first person to come to mind.”

“Today I’m part of the national senior set-up but I can still hear him screaming from the sidelines ‘Go Hondas, go’,” she said, referring to the nickname he used to called her by.

“Words cannot explain how much he meant to me. He was my first coach. He had a way of spotting potential, even when we did not believe it,” she said.

“I used to tell him, look at my size, look at how small I am. But he just kept on pushing me and I am forever grateful for that, she said.

Former Tafelsig High principal, Ruschda O’Shea, the current principal at Sans Souci Girls’ High School in Claremont, shared a similar sentiment. She said that Murphy was appointed as the head of sport at Sans Souci in January 2019, his last coaching position.

“He was a selfless man who never thought it’s impossible to do anything. He was passionate man that loved sport and youth development and will be sadly missed by all at Sans Souci,” she said.

“He introduced rugby at the school and one student was selected for the Western Cape team after only starting rugby three months earlier,” she said.

Murphy’s wife, Nawahl, said her husband had had a massive heart attack and a few mild ones during this month.

She said he was rushed to Lentegeur Hospital and ultimately Groote Schuur, where he was due to have a major operation.

Ms Murphy said they were looking forward to celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary next year.

She said her husband also had diabetes and kidney problems which may have led to complications during the final surgery.

Like her husband, she was also very involved with the players whom he had coached.

“They were like children in our house. We’d drive them from one game to the next,” she said.

Murphy was buried at the Mowbray Muslim cemetery and leaves behind his wife, three children and three grandchildren, his mother and mother-in-law.