Vet­eran soc­cer player has learnt some and is now ready to take Kaizer Chiefs to the next level

Lessons hard

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Steve Kom­phela has suf­fered two se­ri­ous set­backs in his pro­fes­sional football ca­reer – and he doesn’t plan to in­cur a third. The first was in 1996 when he was not part of the Bafana Bafana team that went on to win the Africa Cup of Na­tions. The sec­ond oc­curred six years later, when he missed the flight to the 2002 Korea-Ja­pan World Cup, and was later dis­missed. Kom­phela said the first in­ci­dent nearly broke him. “But when I look back, I re­alise it ac­tu­ally made me a strong man in­stead of a bit­ter one. My team-mates teased me as I did not play in a big tour­na­ment af­ter play­ing in so many lo­cal games since 1992.

“The episode made me un­der­stand that football is not there for­ever,” said the 48-year-old coach. He has, how­ever, be­come more re­si­lent over the years. The Kaizer Chiefs coach there­fore has first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing let down and has vowed not to let any­one down at Amakhosi.

“I come from hum­ble begin­nings, an en­vi­ron­ment that had noth­ing, no hope. As a re­sult, any­thing that came my way was a plus. I don’t moan and groan about life.

“I have learnt to ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing that comes my way be­cause some­where some­one is worse off,” he said. Kom­phela was ap­pointed as Chiefs’ coach last month. “Wher­ever I go peo­ple con­stantly ask ‘will you make it?’. It is one of the most com­mon ques­tions I get.”

The for­mer Mar­itzburg United coach said he had made quite a few changes in the last month.

“I as­sumed the re­spon­si­bil­ity know­ing that I wouldn’t be rep­re­sent­ing my­self any­more, I would be rep­re­sent­ing the team – and I have made some changes be­cause of that.

“I am car­ry­ing a move­ment and ac­cepted a mis­sion that has to be ac­com­plished. I have to ac­cept that I am not just a football coach but an ac­tivist be­cause a lot of peo­ple look up to me,” he said.

Kom­phela, who grew up in Golden Val­ley farm, about 20km out­side Kroon­stad in the Free State, said his up­bring­ing had taught him per­se­ver­ance, dis­ci­pline and ded­i­ca­tion.

He is the youngest of 11 chil­dren – six boys and five girls. His late fa­ther, Jack Koyi Koyo Kom­phela, was an agri­cul­tural ex­pert. His mother, No­ma­langa, has also passed away. “I love the fact that I went through hard­ships. “If I had not, then I would not be where I am to­day. I was moulded by harsh cir­cum­stances and I am the prod­uct of those cir­cum­stances – it has made me what I am to­day.”

FLASH­BACK

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IM­AGES

MAN ON A MIS­SION Steve Kom­phela plans to leave a strong legacy at Kaizer Chiefs

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