Soccer is his life

2016-12-14 06:02
PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Fadlu Davids (blue) of Maritzburg United and Pere Ariweriya of AmaZulu in action at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in this 2010 file image. Davids is the current caretaker manager at Maritzburg United.

PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Fadlu Davids (blue) of Maritzburg United and Pere Ariweriya of AmaZulu in action at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in this 2010 file image. Davids is the current caretaker manager at Maritzburg United.

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FADLU Davids (35), the current caretaker manager at Maritzburg United, is a man who has had his life shaped and guided by the round ball. It’s often said that once a man is involved in soccer it becomes his life, and so it has come to pass with Davids.

He grew up in Athlone in the Cape and, like any youngster, was soon kicking a soccer ball and catching the eye as a more than decent striker. With a big amateur set-up in the Cape, it wasn’t long before he was involved with the then Cape Town Spurs where he played at U15 and U17 level, before representing Saxon Rovers in the first division as a tender 16-year-old. While at Rovers, he also represented the SA U17 side.

“Soccer has been my life and I continue to enjoy a long career despite not reaching 40 yet,” said Davids.

“When I was 17, I was fortunate to attend trials with West Ham and Fulham in England, spending a month at Fulham and three weeks with The Hammers. I trained with the juniors and the reserves and was as good as the players they had but nothing better.”

This was an important learning curve and priceless experience for Davids and unable to get a work permit, he returned to Cape Town where he signed for Mother City. “I played with them for six months and we were relegated. Then I was offered a three-year contract with a team in Bulgaria and again fell short as after one season, the club ran into financial difficulties which saw the foreign players not being paid,” said Davids.

Again, it was back to South Africa and this time Davids hooked up with Manning Rangers, playing under Clive Barker for one-and-a-half seasons. A groin injury saw him depart Rangers and he played First Division football for Avondale Athletico and then Vasco da Gama, where he was top goal scorer and player of the year in his tenure at the club.

“My performances were enough for me to be invited to play for the Louis Figo All Stars against a World XI in Portugal, where I rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in world football, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil’s Ronaldo. Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish were among my fellow South Africans who played and I was honoured to be in such company,” said Davids.

Continuing to represent different clubs, Silver Stars, which became Platinum Stars, was next on Davids’ schedule where he stayed for one-and-a-half seasons, helping the side secure the Telkom Cup. “Then, at the end of 2006, I received a call from Maritzburg United who were fighting relegation in the Premier League. I joined as a player and while we failed to fight off going down, we did enough to be promoted the following season,” said Davids. “I played with United until I was forced to retire at the end of 2011, having played most of that season with an ankle injury and surviving on painkillers. I captained the side for two seasons and in January 2012, I became assistant coach to Ernst Middendorp.”

If he could not play, Davids wanted to continue his involvement in the game he loved by stepping into the coaching realm and here he has continued to make great strides. Working under Middendorp has had a massive influence on his coaching journey and, while Middendorp comes across to the public as a hard, dour man who is unafraid to speak his mind, Davids found the German just the mentor he needed.

“Such was my working relationship with Ernst, I moved with him from Maritzburg United to Bloemfontein Celtic when Steve Komphela arrived at United in 2014. I was at Celtic for one-and-a-half years and again followed Ernst, this time to Chippa United for six months,” said Davids. “During the 2015/16 season I returned to Maritzburg where I was assistant to Mandla Ncikazi and when he departed, I had my first taste of being in charge when I guided the team through one match before Clive Barker returned for what was a short stint.”

Middendorp returned to Maritzburg United for a third time in January this year to save the club from relegation and having accomplished that, dealt a blow to the set-up when announcing his resignation last month. “There were reasons for his decision and that has to be respected,” said Davids. “However, it is a big step filling a head coach’s shoes. Getting coaching licences is a big step and takes big work, and having obtained my Uefa B licence which took two years, I am busy with the Uefa A licence, having already been to Barcelona and Holland.

“I work on these in the off-season and will only get the Uefa A reward in 2018. There is still much to do and it is an ongoing learning curve. I feel I am not quite ready to become a head coach as I need to add more credentials to my CV.”

This is the third time Davids has had to keep the ship on course at Maritzburg United and with the side currently mid-table in the Premier League, he hopes to secure a top-eight finish, perhaps even sneak into the top five. “We should be better than where we are but we move on from every game. I find coaching a personal investment and something worth putting energy into,” said Davids.

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