Be­ing a Bhakaniya is not a choice

CityPress - - Sport - Makashule Gana

Madisha of Mamelodi Sun­downs is not with­out con­tro­versy.

The two have played 13 and 12 games, re­spec­tively, whereas last sea­son’s win­ner – Su­per­Sport United’s Aubrey Modiba – was over­looked de­spite fea­tur­ing 24 times for Mat­sat­santsa A Pi­tori. Or does the fact that he won last sea­son rule him out?

Mahlambi was side­lined for most of the first half of the sea­son and only came back in De­cem­ber. He played a cru­cial role in help­ing Bid­vest Wits sum­mit the log and even­tu­ally lift the Absa Pre­mier­ship cham­pi­onship. Af­ter help­ing Mamelodi Sun­downs’ ju­nior team lift the Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge tro­phy, Madisha was re­warded with first-team ac­tion and played 12 times for the league’s run­ners-up.

But the duo meet the cat­e­gory’s new judg­ing re­quire­ments of hav­ing played 40% of the matches.

In­stead of low­er­ing the stan­dards, the league should set the bar higher – even if no one meets the re­quire­ments – rather than go­ing down to their level. TALK TO US

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It’s a few days af­ter we suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing defeat at the hands of Su­per­Sport United in a cup fi­nal. They de­mol­ished us 4-1.

The loss had many fel­low Bhakaniyas ques­tion­ing whether the slo­gan “once a Pi­rate, al­ways a Pi­rate” is still ap­pli­ca­ble. It is not the loss it­self that made them ques­tion their as­so­ci­a­tion with the skull and cross­bones of Or­lando – it is how we lost that made them lose hope, they said.

Since the loss, I have been speak­ing to many Bhakaniyas who, like me, can­not imag­ine them­selves out­side Or­lando Pi­rates. It is this sup­porter that I would like to ad­dress my­self to, be­cause be­ing a Pi­rate is not a choice, it is life. We are one with Or­lando Pi­rates Foot­ball Club. It is who we are.

I have been try­ing to un­der­stand the rea­sons we have been lack­lus­tre this en­tire sea­son, even when we changed coaches. The loss to Su­per­Sport in the Ned­bank Cup fi­nal is forc­ing us to have a con­ver­sa­tion we have been avoid­ing as stake­hold­ers. It is a con­ver­sa­tion about the play­ers we have been re­cruit­ing, the scouts and the man­age­ment of the team. I need to de­clare at this stage that I do not think we have a coach­ing prob­lem. Though we might have a prob­lem with peo­ple try­ing to coach the coach.

I will start with the play­ers, be­cause it is them who are the pub­lic am­bas­sadors of the team – they wear the Pi­rates badge ev­ery time they trot onto a soc­cer field.

In the past few sea­sons, there have been re­ports of un­be­com­ing be­hav­iour from our play­ers, some of which bor­ders on ut­ter dis­re­spect for the badge. Ev­ery time these re­ports emerge, the play­ers are de­fended by their “in­ter­nal agents”. I have some­times doubted these re­ports, dis­miss­ing them as the work of our op­po­nents try­ing to desta­bilise our team. But af­ter hav­ing seen first-hand what some of our play­ers get up to, my view on this mat­ter has changed com­pletely.

In the lead-up to Satur­day’s Ned­bank Cup fi­nal, there were some play­ers who were not part of the match day squad that I hap­pened to be shar­ing a ho­tel with in Dur­ban. They ar­rived on Thurs­day, and par­tied ev­ery night in their Pi­rates track­suits and vests. I even had some­one ask me in the morn­ing if they were play­ers or just sup­port­ers. When I con­firmed they were play­ers, the per­son was shocked.

I was not com­pletely both­ered by the par­ty­ing on Thurs­day, it is the par­ty­ing on Satur­day that re­ally got to me. I lost my ap­petite com­pletely be­cause I never imag­ined that I would wit­ness our play­ers dis­re­spect­ing the badge in that man­ner.

Af­ter the loss, I saw lots of hurt Pi­rates fans, many of whom had trav­elled long dis­tances to sup­port the team at Moses Mab­hida. Some were even driven to tears.

Still hurt­ing a few hours af­ter the game, I went back to the ho­tel. What I saw shat­tered me. The Pi­rates play­ers were con­tin­u­ing with their par­ty­ing with girls. This af­ter the team lost 4-1. There was no sense of shame at all. I guess they did not care that sup­port­ers were re­turn­ing to Gaut­eng, Mpumalanga, the Free State and other parts of the coun­try deeply hurt. All they wanted was to con­tinue par­ty­ing.

I guess they see them­selves only as Pi­rates em­ploy­ees and not one with the club.

If they were one with the club, they would have be­haved dif­fer­ently. Gone are the days when play­ers would give their all for the team and its sup­port­ers. We now have play­ers who only care about so­cial me­dia and us­ing the club’s badge to score with girls.

As for man­age­ment, three men are di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the state of the club. They are chair Irvin Khoza, Screamer Tsha­bal­ala and Floyd Mbele. Khoza has given too much power to Tsha­bal­ala and Mbele. Even when there are re­ports of in­ter­fer­ence with the coach’s du­ties, he has done lit­tle and al­lows them to do as they wish.

One has to look at the num­ber of play­ers we buy at the start of a sea­son only to sell or lend them out at the end of the same sea­son.

Some­thing needs to change, and now. It starts with the re­place­ment of Tsha­bal­ala and Mbele with ca­pa­ble peo­ple who will not in­ter­fere with the coach.

Per­son­ally, I would wel­come the re­turn of Senzo Mazingisa (now with Plat­inum Stars) to the team. Gana is DA spokesper­son on

co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs/hu­man set­tle­ments in the Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IMAGES PHOTO: ANESH DE­BIKY / GALLO IMAGES

QUES­TION MARKS Phaka­mani Mahlambi’s nom­i­na­tion has raised eye­brows FOR­LORN Or­lando Pi­rates play­ers af­ter the Ned­bank Cup fi­nal they lost 4-1 to Su­per­Sport United at Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium

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