Baloyi comes full circle
Brian Baloyi is living his dream as Kaizer Chiefs’ goalkeeper trainer, writes Daniel Mothowagae, who has followed the legend’s career from his early playing days
Aspot on the western side of the training grounds at Chiefs Village holds fond memories for Brian Baloyi (41). This is the exact scene where the now retired goal minder was moulded into Amakhosi’s number one and later became the country’s first choice after joining the glamour club as a 17-year-old.
Among his former trainers were Deshi Bakhtawar, whose methods included a drill with a tennis ball – and Amakhosi’s former great, Donald “Ace” Khuse, who once took charge of the club’s goalies.
This was before the club roped in specialist coach Rainer Dinkelacker on a part-time basis in 1999. Baloyi succeeded the German-born mentor as the club’s goalkeeper trainer after the latter returned to Europe last month.
“I spent 13 years with Chiefs as a player and I am excited to be back at home in a different capacity,” said Baloyi, who earned the Spider-Man moniker for his agility in his heyday.
He sports a spiderweb tattoo on his right arm and a grey “goatee”, which are personal touches that are a reminder of the larger-than-life character the colourful Baloyi used to be on the field.
“Goalkeeping was always going to be part of me forever. I am riding on my success as a former player and now writing a new chapter as a coach. I have a feeling I am going to be successful at this, though the challenge is to produce future ’keepers.”
The Alexandra township-born Baloyi mentors arguably the country’s top goalkeepers – Itumeleng Khune (28), Reyaad Pieterse (23) and Brilliant Khuzwayo (25) – who idolised him as a player. He is also involved with the coaching of Chiefs’ goalkeepers in the development ranks.
“It is a pleasant headache to have three ’keepers in the senior team, unlike when we have to look around for a top ’keeper. The biggest challenge is to get their mental aspect right. I have always believed football is 80% mental and 20% physical.”
He added: “It is not only about stopping goals, because good ball distribution by either hand or foot are key when the team is attacking.”
Keeping a clean sheet is every ’keeper’s dream and Baloyi’s glovesmen go into today’s Absa Premiership clash with Platinum Stars in Cape Town having not conceded a goal in their last two fixtures.
Pieterse is likely to retain the number one jersey, having been in goal for the past three games since replacing Khuzwayo after a 3-1 thrashing to Mamelodi Sundowns in the Telkom Knockout final last month.
Khune, who has recovered from a knee injury, has played seven league games so far. Said Pieterse: “Brian has been an inspiration to all of us and he has not changed the things we learnt from Rainer. There is a sense of continuity in what we do at training.”
Dinkelacker maintained “training should meet the requirements of modern goalkeeping”.
“We were always in touch with Rainer before I even came in as his understudy [in July] because I had an idea of opening a goalkeeper academy one day.”
Baloyi said his relationship with Chiefs, with the Motaungs in particular, is healthy, despite his acrimonious departure from Amakhosi in 2004.
“There was no bad blood between us; it was typical of the media painting a negative story. My return today is an important lesson to young players: don’t burn your bridges,” he said.
He conceded there were “ups and downs” during his six-year stint with Sundowns.
He made just two appearances for the club during the 2010/11 season, paltry statistics that raised the alarm bells that his time was up in the game he had served for two decades. Baloyi also racked up 24 Bafana caps. “I am a realist and knew there would be a time to stop. I could have played until 40, but having played at the highest level for 20 years was a good number to bow out on, even though I was only 37 when I retired in 2011. I could have searched for another club, but I didn’t want to have on my CV that I played for five or six clubs in my career.” Baloyi said he had already made up his mind to focus on the “personal businesses” he had established while playing. “Sometimes as footballers, we are disadvantaged because you kind of feel a sense of jealousy when you are business-minded, yet people criticise and mock us when there is nothing to fall back on when our playing days are over.
“Football needs real business managers and not just the agents who are there when the contract is signed – and you only see them again when you sign a new deal.” As a businessman, Baloyi revealed, things hadn’t really panned out well for him.
“I had my ups and downs in franchising businesses, lost money but...” he said with a tinge of sadness before cutting the conversation short with: “Let’s leave that out, I’ll tell it in a book one day.”
Baloyi – a father of two boys, Kgosi aged 11 and Khumo, who turns a year old next month – credited his wife Phungi and a “good family structure” as the pillars that had supported him throughout.
Chiefs goalkeeper trainer Brian ‘Spider-Man’ Baloyi exchanges ideas with head coach Steve Komphela on match day