Sports Icons In Wentworth -THE LARSEN FAMILY

Every so often people from the same family are gifted with similar superhuman genetics. They become the most successful and famous sports families.There is no getting around it; genes determine our potential for developing many of the structural and functional characteristics important in determining sport performance.

Wentworth has produced some of the most iconic family players in the history of local  football. The township of Austerville has an archive  of stars that are  scarcely believable yet sadly undocumented.

The Larsen family are one of these iconic Wentworth Sports families.

In 1969, Ernest Paul (Bully) Larsen, and Moira Ruiters met at a Percy Sledge concert which was hosted at Christ The King Hall, in the present day Goshen Road, they began to date, and on 17 February 1971 their eldest son Clinton was born. Later, Clinton was to  become a trailblazing and iconic figure in South African Soccer, not to mention a truly world class player. At a tender age, he expressed his love for soccer, and what followed was he, turning it into a career. He went from being a footballer, to being a much sought-after coach. He has impacted some of the top teams in the PSL and boasts a wealth of experience in his craft. 

Moira and Bully Larsen

Moira Larsen, being a sportswoman herself, has encouraged her offspring to develop their own self-awareness of skills that they have gained. This has  enhanced their self-confidence and facilitated the transfer of such skills to other areas of their life.

She inadvertently put trust in the coaches’ methods including that of her husband, soccer star, Bully Larsen. If the same messages are being portrayed by both the parents and the coach then there is a lower chance of the child becoming confused, which means they were  able to focus more on working towards set goals.

The emotional and tangible support that Bully and Moira provided, became reassuring to their family and their  sporting ability.

Moira’s hockey career was also  a remarkable journey. For Moira, who grew up in Wentworth and experienced apartheid in her early years, it wasnt easy, but it was certainly  worth it.

As Sebenzile Nkambule articulated; “The social, political and economic situation impacts everything, and in sport this impact is in development: not having access to opportunity, not having training and so on.” – Arizona State University’s South African Humphrey Fellow Sebenzile Nkambule

After a season with Evergreens Hockey Club, she went on to be the coach of Chelsea Hockey Club in 1989, and later; Manning Rangers Hockey Club.

Moira is extremely rapid in catching up with new things, while being polite and great with words. She is usually spontaneous, always brewing up  a new idea and looking forward to showing it. She is  warm hearted and charitable to her peers and anyone in need. In her younger days she would embark on a continuous search to widen the horizons of her hockey team.

Moira and Hockey Teammates at their reunion

The following are Moira’s teammates; some of whom have since relocated to Australia New Zealand, and other countries;

Gwen Pieterse, Shereen Baroochi, Bernie Thomas, Lucretia Van Wyk, Laverne James, Lauren Knock, Yvonne Abrahams, Bianca Manning, Alvina Moore, Genevieve Moore, Marla Merth,Vanessa Wildey, Louise Camp, Chapies Jasmin, Desiree McDonald, Nichole McDonald, Lavina Africa, Freda Labistour, Laurelle Cook, Tracey Ball, Loueen Jones, Carol Manique, Shereen Houghton, Genevieve Abrahams, Rose Wagner, Debbie Porter, Zelda Kenny,Bronwyn Eddie, Hazel Gerza, Laven De Bruin, Judy Pienaar, and Michelle Meintjies.

Recently, at the launch of the book; WENTWORTH-The Beautiful Game and the Making of Place,  by Ashwin Desai, team member, Laverne James, paid homage to Moira as a remarkable hockey coach who was always involved in an ongoing balancing act; providing the guidance and care a team needs, but keeping a professional level of  discipline.

Clinton  Larsen started his career in football back in the early 90s when he joined Crusaders United. In 1992, he joined Manning Rangers, and the team was his home up until 1999. Between 2001 and 2003, he played for Orlando Pirates, and in 2001, he went back to Manning Rangers and was part of the squad that represented the country on two occasions in 1997. 

Clinton Larsen The Coach

Larsen has spent the better part of his life playing and coaching football. The many decades that he has spent in this  sport are a testament to his passion for the game. He has a history of coaching some of the most successful teams in the PSL and has also bagged a couple of awards along the way. 

Clinton Larsen the player

On the other hand, his father, Bully Larsen was a creative and tactically intelligent player with good vision, technique, movement, passing ability, and striking ability from a  distance. He was also a hard-working player, who was able to read the game and help the team defensively. He was all up for novelty and knew how to handle any change.  Adaptable and very direct, he never missed an occasion to try something that was never tried before. 

Originally, he played for Berea United, then Leeds and later Chelsea Football Club. On January 11 2015,after succumbing to his fight with a short bout of illness, Ernest Larsen expired.

Many of his friends from the football fraternity gathered together to pay tribute to this great midfielder. Buddy Govender expressed; “Wonderful and moving send off today for Ernest ‘Bully’ Larsen at Christ The King Church in Wentworth. My Leeds FC team-mates came from all over the country, along with our coach, the great Blondie Campbell to pay our last  respect to Lars. I am sure he would have been pleased that we,along with his family and friends packed this beautiful church to ‘celebrate’ the life of our midfield-general. Rest in peace Lars, we will all team-up again my brother”

Ernest ‘Bully’ Larsen

Larsen’s younger  son, Carli Larsen, was also involved in soccer. While at high school he played for Natal. In Wentworth he played for Chelsea Football Club, and later, he relocated to Johannesburg, where he played for the Vodacom Soccer Team. Carli shows a great ability to innovate and is also very determined to achieve his  goals. He always  appears to others as composed and relaxed, which he usually is, but he also works very hard to keep everything in place.

Carli Larsen

Moira’s grandson, Jaryd Larsen is currently studying Sports Science. This is a discipline that studies how the healthy human body works during exercise, and how sport and physical activity promote health and performance from cellular to whole body perspectives.  Through the scientific study of sport, researchers have developed a greater understanding on how the human body reacts to exercise, training, different environments and many other stimuli.

Jaryd Larsen

It goes without saying that; athletes tend to have children who are athletic. Studies show that athleticism may be in the genes, but there are also other external factors that may impact a child’s athletic success. External influences are influences that do not occur from within the individual but from elsewhere like the environment and others around you.  External influences such as the political, economic, and social environment seems to have contributed to a star studded line up of soccer greats from Wentworth.

By ; Lorraine Richards

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