Few in the professional football ranks have a remarkable and inspiring story as one, Donovan Keith Ronnie has. He mesmerized his opposition and capped a glorious professional stint with his beloved Santos FC.
Today, FARPost flies to the mother city and celebrate the football and coaching career of a federation stalwart, who epitomized raw talent, sophisticated skill and a gentleman persona par excellence.
- Who is Mr Ron
Donovan Keith Ronnie or Mr Ron or Donnie Ronnie as he is substantially labelled by Capetonians, was born in Claremont, on the 8th October 1961, the youngest of the three boys. He is married to his wonderful wife Sheryl and the pair have been blessed with three children, Amy, Michael and Jason.
Due to the Group Areas Act, his family was given 30 days’ notice to leave the property and as such relocated to Heideveld, a new suburb at the Cape Flats. He attended St Theresa’s Primary and matriculated from Athlone High School in 1971.
- Early break
Coach Ronnie started playing football at the age of 9 for his local side, Wolves AFC. He started playing senior football when he was 15-years-old and represented the local district from the age of 18. He then joined Sinton AFC at age 20 and went on to represent Western Province at Inter-Provincial Level.
When Santos FC decided to go professional, he joined them and played for a year and then went back to play amateur football. A few years later, he had his second spell with Santos as he felt that he had unfinished business with the Cape giants.
Coach Ronnie won numerous trophies with the team and that include a historic treble in 1988.
- Federation Player of the Year
As one of the leading players in the then Federation Football League under the umbrella of SACOS, Mr Ron had a glorious year and contributed immensely to his club success.
The same year (1990) in the final year of the federation, he won both the knockout as well as the league and the cherry on top was him being voted as the Federation Player of the Year.
- Jean Marc Ithier Academy
Today Coach Ronnie coaches in the Jean Ithier Academy based in Cape Town. He is also the Junior Chairman, plays a critical role in nurturing, sharpening and accelerating the best talent from the Cape.
The Jean Marc Ithier is a community football development programme that caters for youth players in the neighbourhood, and accommodates teams from Under-10s to Under-19s, including 2 open teams participating in the Local Football Association.
Speaking to some of the stalwarts who played with and against him, described Mr Ron as a deceptive dribbler with amazing co-ordination, balance and exceptional ability to deliver pin-point crosses, and the Jean Marc Ithier programme is blessed to have Mr Ron as a Coach/Leader.
Some of the best young players that he has developed in his youth coaching career and who have gone on to play professional football, include, Fagrie Lakay, Jamie Webber and Jamie Kraak.
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By FARPost Technical Study Group