Members of the Bayhill Premier Cup organising committee and friends in the football fraternity have paid tribute to the longest-serving member and founder, Roger Clayton, who passed away on Thursday September 3.
Clayton has been part of the Premier Cup since its inception more than three decades ago.
The annual football spectacle is one of if not the most widely followed youth development tournaments in the country and on the continent.
Whether directly or indirectly, Clayton’s influenced has touched the lives of many soccer players who would go on to become household names.
Stars that include the likes of Benni McCarthy started out in the same competition before going on to be one of the most decorated players to come out of South Africa.
Clayton’s passion for the tournament was unparalleled and he is said to have personally paid for the first trophies back in 1989.
In a statement after Clayton’s passing, Premier Cup tournament director, PJ Williams, said Clayton’s passion for football development will be fondly missed and they are blessed to have been on this journey with him.
At the time of his passing he was working as media liaison officer for the tournament.
“Roger’s tenacity and friendliness won over the hearts of many key journalists from various publications across the country.
“All because he wanted to get exposure for the many talented young boys who participated in the Bayhill Tournament annually.
“From cooldrinks to cake drops at media houses, he left no stone unturned to ensure that the event had the biggest and most prominent media coverage.
“This was unprecedented at the time, and as years went by his relationships were forged in stone.
“The Bayhill tournament to this day is a calendar event for all the leading media houses and sports agencies across the country.”
Williams added that the Premier Cup was truly blessed to have been part of this wonderful journey with Clayton who also worked as in-house tournament MC.
“We will never forget his humour and smile, and his abundant hospitality to all who visited Premier Cup events.
“To all the players who graduated from the Premier Cup to start their professional football careers; this was the dream and desire of Roger Clayton, and he lived to see thousands of players make their mark at this event.
“It is because of him that media and scouts from across the country and world attend the event religiously, and he helped to pave the way to your success.
“He did all this without wanting praise or accolades.
“It was always about the kids, and always about football,” said Williams.
Safa Cape Town president, Bennett Bailey, said he met Clayton while working on a major events strategy for the Western Cape government in 2000.
He said the Premier Cup was identified as the perfect example of an event that could promote local and international tourism, one that would encourage people living in townships and the suburbs to interact.
He said well-known soccer writer, Joseph Pillay, pointed him in the right direction, saying: “Benny, go to Mr Premier Cup Bayhill himself.”
Clayton, he said, set up a meeting with the organising committee, which ultimately led to a long-standing relationship between the tournament, the provincial government and later, the City of Cape Town.
“His legacy shall continue to live on in the Bayhill Premier Cup.
“We will miss his voice welcoming the participating teams and announcing the scores,” he said.
A memorial to celebrate the life of Roger Clayton will be arranged at a date yet to be announced.
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