“The older generation remembers the exploits of Baby Richards on the tennis courts, swimming pools and rugby fields, while the younger generation admires him for his principled stance that paved the way for the opportunities that they now enjoy.”
TRIBUTES have been pouring in from all over the country on the passing of well-known Kimberley and Northern Cape sporting personality Abubacker “Baby” Richards, 84, a real stalwart of non-racial sport.
Richards passed away in the early hours of Friday morning.
He was an all-round sportsman, excelling in cricket, tennis, swimming, rugby and bodybuilding. It was ultimately in rugby that Richards shone as a player, referee and an excellent administrator.
He started out his career as a scrumhalf at Arabian College Football Club. He served the club as a player, captain, secretary and later as chairperson. He was also the chairperson of the Griqualand West Referees Association for many years.
“Uncle Baby”, as he was fondly known, followed in the huge footsteps of AR Abass, both at club level, provincial level and later national level.
He was seen as the doyen of non-racial sport and was a key figure in the unity of rugby in the late 90s.
He became the president of Griqua Rugby after unity and was instrumental in the renaming of the Union Grounds to the AR Abass Stadium in Kimberley.
Richards married into another sporting family in Kimberley when he tied the knot with Sadiya Alexander, the sister of the late Igsaan, late Tasliem, Rashart and Ali Alexander.
Richards was also a prominent businessperson in Kimberley, a highly-respected community man and was actively involved, before illness set in, in the activities of the local Muslim community.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander expressed his condolences to Richards’ family and friends.
“He was a well-loved and much respected administrator who really cared for the game,” said Alexander.
“‘Oom Baby’ served in various capacities in rugby and represented Griquas with such dignity and passion in our structures, including the President’s Council and on the executive of the SA Referees Association.
“He was president of Griquas both before and after unity in rugby and whether he served as secretary, referee, president or chairman in rugby, he did so with much integrity and ability.
“It is fair to say that ‘Oom Baby’ leaves a huge legacy, not only in his own community, but also in the wider rugby family. He was a fine example to many of how to serve the game.
“To his wife, Sadiya, as well as their children and their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren, we want to say thank you as well, for sharing him with the rugby fraternity, where he was a beacon of light to all of us. May his soul rest in peace, and may Allah grant him Jannatul-Firdaus.”
Northern Cape Cricket also paid tribute to Richards following his passing: “We have lost a sporting icon and a friend, and we pray that the Almighty grant him a high place in Paradise. Our sincere condolences to Aunty Sadiya, her children and the extended Richards and Alexander families.
“Rest Well Mr Baby Richards.”
Among the tributes was also a message from Boland Cricket: “The older generation remember the exploits of Baby Richards on the tennis courts, swimming pools and rugby fields, while my generation admires him for his principled stance that paved the way for the opportunities that the younger generation now enjoy.”
Former SA Rugby Union chairperson Brian van Rooyen said: “It is with sadness that we have learned of the passing of Uncle Baby. I served with Uncle Baby on the SA Rugby executive, hamba kahle Uncle Baby.”