Durban’s reputation as South Africa’s playground dates back to the early 1930s when one of the country’s legendary soccer teams was born.Winning or losing, well known AmaZulu Football Club is among the country’s household names, especially in the city, where it is based. Others are Thanda Royal Zulu, Nathi Lions, Golden Arrows and Durban Stars.
AmaZulu FC was founded by King Solomon Maphuzana Zulu in 1932. The club was initially known as the Zulu Royal Conquerors. Usuthu, as affectionately known, had the blessing of the Zulu King, King Solomon, and even today the club remains the pride of the Zulu nation. Though the club has gone through transformation – good and bad – it remains proud of its history.
In 1971 Usuthu was selected to replace the African Wanderers team at the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) after the KwaZulu-Natal Football Association suspended Wanderers from the NPSL.
In 1973, the Zulu Royals, as they were known then, suffered a huge setback when the then manager, Mr Bethwell Masondo, left the club and took with him several key players, a development that resulted in the club splitting up. After this unfortunate incident, they slipped into a mid-season slump that would see them not being able to successfully defend their league title.
Then a year later, the running of the team was taken over by a group of its supporters and in the same year, Zulu Royals changed its name to AmaZulu Football Club, but the praise name Usuthu was to remain till today. However, a separate group of fans, under the leadership of Mr. Francis Dlamini, who had managed the reserve team, decided to part ways with the reserve team. The formed a new team, which was launched at the University of Zululand under the name Zulu Royal United, nicknamed “Esikotshi”.
Thanda Royal Football Club was initially known as Benoni Premier United based on its place of origin, Benoni, Gauteng. The club was bought by the Thanda business group before it moved its franchise from Benoni to Durban. Prior to that, the club was known as Hellenic FC and was based in Cape Town. Amabhubesi, as they are affectionately known, currently play home games in the Mpumalanga Stadium in Hammarsdale, to the west of Durban. The playground is significantly smaller than their alternative venue, the ABSA Stadium, located inside the city. In 2006, Thanda Royal Zulu were the Mvela Platinum pay-offs winners. The club currently participate in the Premier Soccer League.
Also currently in the Premier Soccer League, Golden Arrows is another one of the country’s soccer clubs based in Durban. Golden Arrows became the champions during the 1999/2000 season of the National First Division Coastal Streams League, then known as the MTN Champions League. The league is presently known as the Mvela League. It was that particular victory that saw the team moving to the prestigious Premier Soccer League. The Abafana Bes’thende currently plays its home games in the King Zwelithini Stadium, in the local uMlazi township, and in the Kings Park Soccer Stadium in the city.
Nathi Lions Football Club was founded in 1997 and named after its founder, Nathi Maphumulo. The club currently competes in the National First Division, Coastal Streams. Nkosinathi Maphumulo is currently the chairperson of the club and Sherped Murape is currently the manager.
Durban Stars Football Club was founded in 2003. The club currently participates in the National First Division Coastal Streams. In 2003, Phindani Nene acquired the franchise of Umoja Marizburg United from Pietermaritzburg.