One on one with footballer, ‘AK 47’

2017-05-10 06:01

THE PMB Echo sports contributor Jerry Barnes caught up with Maritzburg-born soccer player Sandile “AK 47” Ndlovu. In his heyday Ndlovu played for PSL giants Mamelodi Sundown, Dynamos, Moroka Swallows and Bloemfontein Celtic in the elite league.

JB: You started a development project, what exactly is it?

SN: I started a junior development project or programme with my friend Bulelani Nsimbi, a junior development coach. We are trying to change the lifestyle of youngsters who hang around street corners.

JB: What is the ultimate aim of this project?

SN: As former professional soccer players, we are trying to guide and keep these youngsters busy to keep them away from drugs, alcohol and other things. Hopefully, we will be able to find talented soccer players to hoist the Pietermaritzburg flag in the soccer leagues.

JB: So your guidance will help shape their future positively.

SN: Sport will change their lifestyle, and we will also make it clear that education is most important.

JB: Are you qualified to coach junior players?

SN: Yes, papers are always important, besides being a former professional soccer player, I also got my D and C coaching licence, so my playing experience and coaching knowledge will come in handy.

JB: When did you start this project?

SN: Six months ago.

JB: How did you initiate it?

SN: I was with Nsimbi one day and we saw many local boys just loitering and looking bored, so the next day we got the youngsters together and the project began.

JB: The last time we met was in Johannesburg and you were with Sundowns and later Moroka Swallows, when did you officially return to Pietermaritzburg?

SN: I came back in 2013.

JB: How was your stay in Sundowns compared to Dynamos?

SN: Sundowns is too big to compare to Dynamos and to be in the starting line-up was a challenge.

JB: Have you now officially retired from professional football and what made you hang up your boots?

SN: I have officially retired from the professional ranks and I made the decision after I struggled to find a team to take my career to the next level.

JB: You also played for Bafana Bafana. Which countries did you played against and how many games did you play in?

SN: I was in three national call-ups against Australia, Mauritius and Congo.

JB: Where are you now based?

SN: Our group is made by boys from around Imbali Intersection, Ashdown, Peace Valley and Gomora. We have U11, U13, U15, U17 and U19 teams.

JB: How many players have joined the development programme?

SN: There are 50 so far and we are hoping to add to that number.

JB: You started from nothing and without equipment, so what do you need to keep the project running?

SN: We are really struggling. We started with two balls and no equipment. Luckily a few weeks ago, the local Department of Sport and Recreation donated some balls and training bibs, but that is not enough, we still need training cones, boots, goalposts, training equipment, soccer balls (size 4 and 5), kits, boots, bibs and tracksuits, to name just some.

JB: Are you going around and asking for help and sponsorship?

SN: Yes, I have asked a few people and some business sectors, but we have not been successful.

JB: Name five youngsters you think are already showing positive signs of a bright future.

SN: They are all good and I wish talent scouts would visit us regularly, but Andile, Anele, Mduduzi, Banele and Wonderboy are likely to go far and are very committed.

JB: Good luck and I wish you all the best.

SN: Thank you, please tell potential sponsors or funders that their help is desperately needed.

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