Mathews Kutumela inducted in WBSC Softball Hall of Fame

The 4th Congress of the World Baseball Softball Confederation was held on July 5 in Taipei, Taiwan, and during it, experienced South African softball administrator Mathews “Bra Tebe” Kutumela was admitted into the WBSC Hall of Fame. The inaugural Hall of Fame class included individuals from 11 different nations. Kutumela’s inclusion in the same sentence as Nelson Mandela is not coincidental. Therefore, they both helped to end the country’s racial divide in identical ways. Kutumela, a sports administrator, preached racial harmony while Nelson Mandela, a former political prisoner turned statesman, built the Rainbow Nation. At the height of the apartheid era, Kutumela was a founding member of the Northern Transvaal Softball Union (NTSU), a federation consisting primarily of black people, and a key figure in the revolutionary change from baseball to softball as the game’s regulatory body. When Kutumela takes a trip down memory lane, he is overcome with a mixture of emotions, including both adversity and brilliance.

Being inducted into the WBSC Softball Hall of Fame is a significant accomplishment. The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made an impact on the sport of softball, either through their accomplishments on the field or their contributions to the game. The Hall of Fame also serves as a way to preserve the history of softball and honor those who have made a lasting impact on the sport. Many of the game’s greatest players and contributors have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it is considered one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon someone involved in softball. Induction into the Hall of Fame is a way to ensure that an individual’s legacy will be remembered and honored for generations to come. The WBSC Softball Hall of Fame was established in 2004 to recognize and celebrate the success and accomplishments of those who have made a lasting impact on the game. Induction into the Hall of Fame is reserved for the cream of the crop, those who have not only excelled on the field but have also made significant contributions to the sport off the field. This honor is symbolic of an individual’s dedication to and passion for softball, and it is something that will be cherished forever.

“There were no black organizations in the late 1950s and early 1960s. All of our matches were friendly competitions between friends. However, the South African Softball Federation was officially established at a tournament in Bloemfontein in 1975 that was attended by players from the old Transvaal provinces. We had Ismail Kutwane as president and myself as secretary. Despite the fact that whites played in the Western Province and Natal, the federation only included black players. In 1981, I took office as president. Talks between the South African Softball Association Whites and the South African Softball Association Coloured began in 1989, when news of Mandela’s impending release spread. A provisional committee was formed in 1993, but the South African Softball Association wasn’t formally created until 1995. The following year, we had our first meeting of the International Softball Federation (ISF) in Michigan, United States, and had our first combined tournament in East London. South Africa made their ISF World Softball Super Series debut in Michigan the following year. After that, Don Porter, who had previously served as president of ISF, invited me to join. My role as Africa’s vice president began in 1997. After much campaigning, I was elected vice president of the African Baseball Softball Association, where I now rule over both sporting codes as the continent’s most senior executive” explained Kutumela

Kutumela was named Honorary President of his own country for his visionary leadership and commitment to reform. The announcement that a live African legend would be inducted into the Hall of Fame sparked a flurry of enthusiastic superlatives. Guillo Marapyne, a former president of SSA, remarked that this honor was overdue because so many great Africans, including Kutumela, had been disregarded in the past. “The time has come, he continued, at last, to witness one of us being honoured for his superiority in administrative matters. Our generation has put forward Kutumela’s name, but he was overlooked. Though the process was excruciatingly agonizing, we are eternally grateful that our long-held hope has finally come true. One of the most impressive achievements in South African sports history is the part he played in the sport of softball’s racial unification. It is a great honor for us Africans to see someone from our continent recognized while he is still among us. He was a gentle giant who devoted his life to softball, and now most administrators may learn a thing or two from his position as Honorary President of SSA”