Transnet School of Ex­cel­lence prod­uct Tshepo Mashishi never quite scaled the heights some of the de­vel­op­ment school’s grad­u­ates were able to achieve, but the smartest thing he ever did was po­si­tion him­self for life out­side the rigours of foot­ball. In this


The re­al­ity that tends to be ig­nored by foot­ballers dur­ing their hey­days is the fact that a playing ca­reer has a lim­ited life­span and comes to an end even­tu­ally. Too many foot­ballers only re­alise this in the twi­light of their playing days and then re­luc­tantly go into re­tire­ment with­out a plan of how to earn a liv­ing, let alone sus­tain their life­styles. One of a very few who have not found them­selves caught up in this web and scram­bling into coach­ing as the only re­sort is Tshepo Mashishi. Mashishi never reached the heights of be­ing a su­per­star in pro­fes­sional foot­ball, but played for a decade and quit the game al­ready armed with means of con­tin­u­ing his com­fort­able life­style. “I al­ways knew that there would come a time when I would stop playing foot­ball,” he says. “My intention was al­ways to get into the cor­po­rate world, which is why, while I was playing, I stud­ied marketing, sports ad­min­is­tra­tion and then sports man­age­ment. I felt I needed to ac­quire the knowl­edge first, as a way of po­si­tion­ing my­self.” “Shoes” is now the re­gional foot­ball marketing man­ager at Puma, and pro­vides a re­fresh­ing story that is dif­fer­ent to what most for­mer foot­ballers are do­ing in try­ing to squeeze into coach­ing as their last re­sort. “My pas­sion was al­ways in marketing and luck­ily I stayed in the sports in­dus­try,” says Mashishi. “With this job, I am ba­si­cally the lo­gis­tics guy here in Gaut­eng, in that I do all player and club con­tracts and then en­sure the marketing rights are ad­hered to. Some peo­ple might think this job is easy, but what helped in my case is that I al­ready had re­la­tion­ships from my playing days. When this op­por­tu­nity at Puma came in 2012 I was still do­ing my in­tern­ship with ProS­port In­ter­na­tional [a player man­age­ment agency]. The com­pany needed some­one to man­age foot­ball and here I was. I al­ways knew coach­ing was not for me, which is why the only coach­ing I do is when I give in­struc­tions to my six-year-old son when he plays with his friends.” A rov­ing right-back dur­ing his playing days, the 37-year-old was ac­tu­ally in the first-ever class of teenagers ad­mit­ted to the on­ce­famed Transnet School of Ex­cel­lence in 1994 af­ter be­ing rec­om­mended by Farouk Khan. That cel­e­brated group – known as “The Dragons” – had Dil­lon Shep­pard, Ger­ald Sibeko, China Ma­sondo and Lucky Mase­le­sele, amongst oth­ers. “Those were the glory days of the school with pro­duc­tion very high, and it was all be­cause we were well taken care of at the time,” he re­calls. Af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing, Mashishi joined Kaizer Chiefs, work­ing his way into the first team, but game time proved elu­sive at the turn of the mil­len­nium. This forced him to move to Mar­itzburg City in the Na­tional First Divi­sion. It was a fa­mous City team that fea­tured the likes of ofMbuleloMbulelo Mabizela, Jimmy Tau, Andile Cele and Mlungisi Gumbi, with Man­qoba Mngqithi amongst those in the tech­ni­cal team. That City team is re­mem­bered for knock­ing out Ajax Cape Town in the BOB Save Su­per Bowl (now Ned­bank Cup) in 2001. “That was one of the most tal­ented teams I played for. It was qual­ity,” he says, gig­gling. Mashishi then found his way to Benoni Premier United and was part of the squad that played un­der the amal­ga­mated Premier United/Hel­lenic fran­chise dur­ing the 2003/04 sea­son, when the they were bought by Du­misani Ndlovu, and then re­lo­cated to the Gaut­eng East Rand. Premier United were rel­e­gated back to the First Divi­sion, but Mashishi, like many oth­ers, stayed on and won pro­mo­tion in 2006 via the rel­e­ga­tion/pro­mo­tion play-offs. He re­mained with the club when it was bought by the Thanda Group in 2007, by which time the for­mer youth in­ter­na­tional was cap­tain. Next up were spells with Mar­itzburg United and Mpumalanga Black Aces, where his ca­reer even­tu­ally came to an end in 2010. “Quit­ting foot­ball was not as dra­matic as hav­ing to go around look­ing for con­tracts ev­ery­where,” he says. “I stopped be­cause I didn’t en­joy go­ing to train­ing and into camp for games any­more. I felt that in­juries had also taken their toll on me. I didn’t have any fears of re­tir­ing at all be­cause I had stud­ied, so I knew I would have a start­ing point. The plus for me was that I never lived an ex­trav­a­gant life in my playing days and was there­fore able to main­tain my life­style post my playing days. “The only trou­ble I had was that for a year or two af­ter the end of my ca­reer I hated playing foot­ball be­cause of what in­juries had done to my ca­reer. I then grad­u­ally found my way back into the game when I started go­ing to sta­di­ums. I now play so­cially and I am en­joy­ing the game again.”


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