Coach behind SA’s football greats dies

2010-08-20 00:00

THE football fraternity yesterday woke up to the news of the death of Reggie “Yize Bekhala” Shelembe, one of the country’s most talented yet ­underrated development coaches.

Shelembe (49) succumbed to cancer on Wednesday night at St Anne’s Hospital after a long battle dating to 2006 while working for Durban Premier Soccer League side AmaZulu FC.

His wife, Lindiwe ka MaMkhize, described her husband as a “loving family father who always wanted to see us living happily”.

Speaking to The Witness from their Imbali 3 home, MaMkhize and elder son Sanqoba told of how their father worked hard for the community.

“Much as his background was in soccer, having been a professional player previously, he involved himself in sports-related projects for the community. He was quiet by nature, yet applied attention to details,” said MaMkhize.

At the time of his death, Shelembe was head coach at Maritzburg City, campaigning in the Second Division.

It is at City that the former Pata High teacher made his name. A number of players now with PSL teams learnt their skills under Shelembe.

Former Bafana Bafana captain Mbulelo “O.J.” Mabizela, who went on to play for English Premiership side Tottenham Hotspur, Kaizer Chiefs’ Jimmy Tau, and Mamelodi Sundowns’ Papi Zothwane are among his products.

His most notable success was guiding City to the Bob Save Superbowl quarter-finals 10 years ago, beating fancied Ajax Cape Town 1-0.

The former African Wanderers and AmaZulu FC right back ventured into coaching and amassed a wealth of knowledge that would shape the careers of many youngsters.

During his coaching career, which has spanned a decade, he collected numerous coaching certificates.

These were attained through ­the KNVB Academy international coaching course, the Brazilian Football Academy, and Safa level two, among others.

His coaching instructor-turned peer Thabo Dladla described Shelembe as “one of the few passionate coaches around”.

Even when illness took its toll on his body, he would pitch up at training. “For him, seeing youngsters develop set him free.”

Dladla believes Shelembe’s credentials should have elevated him to national junior teams given his contribution to the development of many players.

AmaZulu coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who served as Shelembe’s assistant at City, said: “Pietermaritzburg and the province have been robbed of a good talent spotter.

“Many players campaigning in the PSL went through his hands. He had a massive influence on my coaching career.

“He was a good-hearted man and a father who adored his family so much.”

The Shelembe family said details of his funeral are yet to be finalised.

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