Veteran soccer player has learnt some and is now ready to take Kaizer Chiefs to the next level
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.”
MAN ON A MISSION Steve Komphela plans to leave a strong legacy at Kaizer Chiefs