From PSL to exams

2013-10-29 00:00

ON Sunday afternoon, Bandile Shandu was running rings around AmaZulu in the KZN Derby at Moses Ma­bhida Stadium. Yesterday, he sat down for his first matric finals exam, English.

It was the third time the Maritzburg College schoolboy took to the pitch in his short professional football career for Maritzburg United.

But for the next few weeks, football will take the back seat as he concentrates on his school work.

“I’m ready for the exams,” the teenager, who has shared the pitch with the likes of Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns superstar Teko Modise, told The Witness yesterday.

“I’ve been working towards them for the past two months. It’s a big step adjusting between school and football, but I’ve been adjusting very well. I’m happy with both my football and my schooling at the moment,” Shandu said.

Since he signed a professional contract last year, the youngster has been unable to attend every training session due to school, and has therefore not been able to cement his place in the Maritzburg United side.

But, as soon as he finishes his last exam, his focus will shift completely to the club.

“I’ll start training full-time with the first team after my exams, and my focus will be to try and become a regular for the club,” he said.

He looks up to all the players at the club, but singled out the former Bafana Bafana trio of Delron Buckley, Dillon Sheppard and Peter Petersen, plus Thamsanqa Mkhize as the players who have helped him the most.

“They’ve been helping me with my game and giving me advice. I’m very grateful to them for that,” he said.

He also said that his classmates and teachers at College had been supportive ever since he became a professional footballer a year ago.

What has been the highlight of his still fledgling football career?

“For me, it was the Sundowns game. Playing and being on the pitch with big players I always see on TV, for me, that was a big moment.”

His biggest dream is to one day don the yellow and green colours of Bafana Bafana. He also has ambitions to play in Europe and counted Chelsea’s veteran midfielder Frank Lampard as his hero.

“It’s the way he plays. The way he controls the game and makes everyone around him play better. He’s my favourite player at the moment, and I’m always watching him,” he said, admitting he is a big Chelsea fan.

Having captained the Maritzburg College first team this year, he had high hopes for them next year, adding that he’ll keep stopping by to give the players some encouragement.

“The College team are looking great. They will be a big force next season and I’m sure they’ll win some tournaments,” said the former College, now United midfielder.

Shandu’s days of terrorising schoolboy defences are over, and if his 23-minute run against AmaZulu is anything to go by, he’ll soon be showing players in the PSL a thing or two.


NAME: Bandile Shandu

AGE: 18

HEIGHT: 1,65 m

SCHOOL: Maritzburg


SPORT: Football

AMBITION: To play for Bafana Bafana

HONOURS: PSL debut for Maritzburg United as a 17-year-old in 2012.

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