Community award for talent scout

2013-05-09 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG has a lot of raw soccer talent that just needs proper nurturing to make it to the big time.

So says Thulani Matthews Nene of Edendale, who never dreamt of developing soccer talent, let alone achieving a community award for his work.

He played soccer as a striker for Sobantu Shooting Stars and had dreams of donning the famous golden jersey of his favourite team, Kaizer Chiefs, or becoming a teacher.

But when he found there were people who were more talented he hung up his boots and decided to work towards the development of soccer talent in and around Pietermaritzburg.

Some of the great players that Nene has spotted and developed include Mbulelo Mabizela of Chippa United, Ayanda Ndlovu of Maritzburg United and Siyabonga Ngubane of Mamelodi Sundowns.

“We have a lot of talent here in Pietermaritzburg, but we lack sponsorship. Our talented players are leaving for other places as a result,” said Nene.

The chairperson of Duzi Football Association and owner of Ashdown Young Bucs, he admits that developing talent and football is not an easy undertaking since some clubs welcome seasoned players, but are not keen on investing in structures that nurture talent.

Among the Ashdown Young Bucs, Nene named Skhumbuzo “Figo” Shabalala and Siya Khumalo as players to watch out for.

Nene believes in developing not only football, but education as well.

“If a player is playing football, he must go to school and must be disciplined as well. If you are injured or you become old later on, then you have something to fall back on.”

Commenting on the state of soccer in the country, Nene highlighted with nostalgia the era of Jomo Sono, Kaizer Motaung and Percy “Chippa” Moloi. He said it remained the golden era of soccer in South Africa in his view and suggested that an indaba was needed to bring all stakeholders together to discuss how soccer could be improved.

He also lamented the emergence of intimidation in the game, notably fans who wielded guns at soccer matches and biased officials.

One would expect that Nene’s son would follow in his footsteps, but the father laughed: “My son is at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is into singing. He doesn’t like soccer at all!”

For his contribution to developing the community through sport, Nene was awarded the Annual Inheritor’s Community Award, also known as the Indondo Award, last year.

“I love football and I would like to develop the community, so receiving the award was a pleasant surprise and I was very excited that there are people out there who appreciate the work that I do,” he said.

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