Mr Alwie Aysen was a multi-talented sportsman who later excelled as a proficient sports administrator.
Another of Kimberley’s sports icons of yesteryear passed away this week.
Mr Alwie Aysen, husband to Ma’ada, father of Fuad, Shereen, Fatima, Sophia and Yassiem; grandfather of 13, and with eight grandchildren was a multi-talented sportsman who later excelled as a proficient sports administrator.
On the sports field and among friends, Mr Aysen was commonly known as ‘Boeta Alwie Aysen’ and also affectionately referred to as Mr ‘A’.
Unfortunately, in the realm of sports, he did not receive the recognition he undoubtedly deserved.
His talents extended beyond rugby, earning him national recognition in cricket and provincial accolades in soccer.
He captained Arabian College Rugby Football Club from 1961 to 1970 and played a total of 106 games for Griquas from 1958 to 1971.
Mark Alexander, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), paid tribute to the former Springbok fullback, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 86.
“I think it’s fair to say Alwie was one of the most versatile sportsmen of his generation – only a handful of people have received national colours in rugby and cricket and for him, it was well deserved,” said Alexander.
“Unfortunately Alwie played at the highest level when a large part of the South African population were not given the recognition they deserved, and he should be more well-known in our country.
“Despite these challenges, he always gave his best to his team, played with grace and humbleness. Stories of his elegance, athleticism and kicking prowess have been retold over generations.
“After he hung up his boots, Alwie gave back to sport as a selector, coach and administrator at club and provincial level in his beloved Kimberley, where he served on the municipality, and he was also a role model for later generations.
“Alwie was a principled and loyal man – to his family, his friends, his club and his province, and he made a big contribution to his community as well. Our sincere condolences to the Aysen family, all his loved ones and friends, may you find comfort in the memories of a man who made a difference, and may Allah grant him Jannatul Firdaus,” Alexander added.
Back in June 2000, Aysen was honoured as a sporting hero by SARFU, and in during an interview he spoke about some of his fondest sporting memories; too many to mention here, but here are some highlights:
“I was selected to attend the Indian Soccer Union trials in 1955. I was not picked for the tournament but the late Mr AR Abass, then the team manager, asked the union to send me with the team. In 1955 I was included in the Sam China Team at Curriefontein in Durban. This was when I had the opportunity to play for Arabian College with my school teammate, Abraham Juries, who was the scrum half with me at fly-half.
“In 1956 I started the season as Arabian College captain for the second league, but we had to assist the first team on many occasions when players did not turn up for games, then we were immediately drafted into the first team.
“The best year of my life was in 1957 when I was picked for the Griqua Barnato Cricket Tournament in Kimberley and also for the Sam China Tournament in Cape Town. After the soccer tournament I was selected for the Griquas Under-19 match against the African Rugby Union Griquas.
“The next year I was selected for the Griquas B team for the Easter Tournament in Johannesburg.
“This tournament was used as trials for the young players which I was able to use to get the selectors to notice me and in 1959 I was picked for Griquas in the fullback position.”
Aysen, during the interview, also spoke about his beloved Arabian College team, “Back in Kimberley, I captained Arabian College from 1961 to 1970 and played for Griquas from 1958 to 1971, 106 times. In those years we played our provincial tournament for the Rhodes Cup and in 1970 it was named the SA Cup.
“I was Trustee for Griquas and Groundsman from 1961 to 1969 at the AR Abass Stadium.
“Playing for Arabian College all of my life was a great pleasure with great players like Gesant Jardine, Igsaan Alexander, Noor Moosajee and Salie Adams, not forgetting the Griqua players in Jackie Lewis, Roland Cader, Jaap Kruger, Jim Summers and Victor ‘Flash’ Fredericks.”
The Kimberley sporting community has lost a versatile and revered icon with the passing of Mr. Alwie Aysen, devoted husband, father, grand- and great grandfather, who also leaves behind a legacy of unheralded excellence in rugby, cricket, and soccer.
May his contributions and commitment to sports continue to inspire generations to come.