A soccer star born in Durban Joel “Fire” Faya was his famous name in the field. He became famous when he played for AmaZulu Football Club between 1978 and 1992. His real name is Joel Mfanafuthi Fire and his surname is not popular within the Zulu clan but Joel says it with pride that his mother is originally from KwaMaphumulo and his father from Endwedwe. He said, “Mina nginguMadlanduna okusho ukuthi ngiyisihlobo kwaLuthuli.” (I am Madlanduna which means I am related with the Luthuli).*Madlanduna is Luthuli’s praise name The Ama Zulu FC team of 1987. Photograph supplied by Joel Fire
Joel Fire was born at the famous Umkhumbane in 1958 but he did not live for very long because his family was then forced to move out of the area and they moved to Kwa Mashu in 1962. In Kwa Mashu they moved to the area that was called eMaplangweni which is now section B.
Joel started his primary education at Mukelani Primary School in Kwa Mashu and and completed at Mzuvele High School.
“I started playing soccer as a hobby and I have never thought that it could be a career but look at me now I have never worked in my life and I am happy to earn a living through what I enjoy the most.” This is how Joel responded when we asked whether being a soccer player was his dream. “Look when I firstly got paid by AmaZulu, my payment was only R40 per week and at that time that was good money.
Joel Fire started his football career in 1977. The first team that he played for was the under 14 team of B.C Black’s and than in 1978 he joined Ama Zulu F.C where he played alongside the likes of the legendary Sugeray Xulu. Joel respect soccer legends such as the late Pule “Ace” Ntsoelengoe and he goes on to describe South Africa’s legendary soccer coach Clive Barker as his father in soccer. Joel Fire (left) in 1986. Photograph provided by Joel fire
Fire played for AmaZulu until 1992 and he then retired from the field but not from the team because he is the coach for AmaZulu’s development team and he still lives with the community of Kwa Mashu.
Written by: Ntokozo Tshapa