Tributes are pouring in for Cape Town Spurs kit manager, Albert ‘A’ Hendricks, following his passing at his Rocklands home last Thursday.
Mr A, as he is fondly remembered, joined the Spurs family in 1995 and was one of the longest serving members of the club.
Messages came from players, managers, parents and family members who knew Mr A as a man of wisdom, filled with love, care and passion for football.
Cape Town Spurs chief executive officer, Alexi Efstathiou said football has lost yet another legend of the game.
He said Mr A did not hesitate to use his life as an example to many young players and other people he came across in life. Being an orphan was his drive to succeed in life.
“His parental advice extended to the club’s changeroom and beyond. He understood better than most, that many of the players at the club faced similar challenges to those he had encountered. He wanted them all to succeed and make a better life for themselves and their families.
“He was absolutely livid when he saw that players sometimes were not putting in the required effort towards improving themselves as human beings and as players. And boy, did he let them know! He would lecture them one-on-one and hold back no punches in telling them life’s realities,” he said.
Efstathiou said with them both being smokers, they would enjoy a cigarette, exploring what the issues were and how they could improve, always using life experiences as a reference point.
Team manager, Thabiso ‘Shooz’ Mekuto said Mr A was also the comedian in the team.
“He had a kitman in the youth team, Alton Mnduzulwana. One day Mr A came in early. He has a small kitchen where he prepares his breakfast. When he heard the door open, he knew it’s either me or Alton. He laid on the ground with a stick and stuck his tongue out. Alton opened the door and got worried. He called for help. When he got back, there he was, Mr A was laughing,” he said.
Mekuto said Mr A made a huge impact because of his wisdom, upbringing, love and passion for the game. He was always punctual, in fact, he was three hours early on many occasions.
“If we are on a flight and you take off your shoes, he will prank you. The players usually sit at the back. If they fall asleep, they would find their shoes somewhere in front.
“On match days, he never interfered. He would sit the whole weekend at home thinking about the match. On Monday, he will say he has a ‘brainwave’ with all the ideas he analysed over the weekend,” he said.
Mekuto said Mr A’s departure is a big loss for the players and team, but in particular for his family. He leaves behind his wife, Annie, children, Shireen, Gavin, Lee-Anne, Sayde and grandchildren.
“There is one thing about Mr A, he will always answer your call. He never changed and never compromised. He never had a lot to say but would show his love. I am happy for the fact that he left peacefully at home,” said Mekuto.
At the age of 11, Ajax Cape Town development player and now Cape Town Spurs senior player, Toriq Losper would travel to Ikamva, at 5am, with Mr A and couple of other players that were from Mitchell’s Plain.
Losper’s said on match day, Mr A never forgot anything. His passion for football made him prepare his kit, boots and all the gears a day or two before the game.
“He worked very smart I learned a lot from him and he is the best in world, he is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) in what he did, if you think Messi and Ronaldo are good, Mr A was both of them in how good he was in his job as kitman and the only time I saw Mr A cry was when we won a Cup final for Ajax Cape Town and football in general was his life,” he said.
Losper said Mr A carried himself in a manner that earned respect.
“Mr A was like a father, a very special guy. I looked up to him always. He tried to help everyone to improve their game and gave good advice so we can make good decisions in life. He would always tell us about his stories when he was at sea working since the age of 16. Most of all, he also told us about how he didn’t become a gangster but got a gangster to respect him because of the way he carried himself,” said Losper.