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SA Soccer history : crossing the colour divide 23/08/04
Many of the older SASoccer365 readers will remember a time in South African soccer when players from different races were forced to play in seperate leagues.

Times have changes as South Africa is now enjoying life following the country's relatively peaceful transition into democracy in 1994, and although the times prior to 1994 may be viewed as the 'bad old days', there were plenty of amazing stories to come out of that era.

One such story is that of former Orlando Pirates winger, Phillip 'Bushy' Mahhloko, who attempted to cross the colour divide by weraing a blonde wig!

Mahhloko was invited in 1968 by a white soccer friend to play for Lusitano, who were a white club playing in the NFL third division at the time.

'Bushy' was convinced that by joining Lusitano, he would receive better training and would further his career, however, the problem of course was that he was black and therefore not allowed to play in a white team.

However, the player was determined not to let this setback get to him, and as he was fairly light-skinned in colour, he decided to wear a blonde wig and hope that no one would notice his true identity.

"I bought a wig and one evening Vasco (his friend) took me to where where Lusitano were training near Ellis Park rugby ground and introduced me to club officials as Phillip Willis (Willis was his grandmother's name)," he told Theo Mthembu of the Sunday Times at the time.

Mahhloko trained with the team for a month and impressed the coach, who said that 'Bushy' would get a trial game in the club's next match.

But the presure of playing under a false identity was starting to get to Mahhloko.

"I kept asking myself: what will happen if people find out I am not white?"

He went home and told his problem to his mother, who advised him to pull out of the team.

Bushy followed her advice and unfortunately never realised his dream of playing for Lusitano after he stopped going to the club for training.

He did, however, go onto play for Celtics, as well as Orlando Pirates for a short time.

However, the race issue was to plague Bushy at Pirates when the club banned five of their coloured players from playing in the team.

"I did not agree with the banning of these players for racial reasons and I decided to get out of Pirates and went back to Celtics," he said.

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