Living his dream at Kaizer Chiefs
The biggest wish that Bhongolwethu Jayiya’s parents had for their son was for him to obtain a university degree. They made an effort to send him to the best schools, starting him out at Blairgowrie Primary School before sending him to Potchefstroom Boys’ High School. Not only has Jayiya excelled academically as per his parents’ demands, his football career has taken him to the family’s favourite club. Unfortunately his dad hasn’t lived long enough to see all this. His father – Mzwandile Eddie Jayiya – was a journalist who worked for The Star newspaper and was then Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana’s spokesperson at the time of his death in August 2001, after being shot while seated in his car in Meadowlands, Soweto. “How I wish he was here to see what I have grown to become,” says Jayiya. “Actually, every time I get interviewed he is the first person I think of because whenever I woke up every morning he was always reading a newspaper. He was well-informed in his trade. It would have really been great for him to write about his son. I am doing everything for him and the family.” After a brief pause at the end of paying respect to his late father, he raises his head. “How did the son of a journalist and a school teacher end up a professional footballer?” he asks, rhetorically.
His mom – whom he talks of fondly –
is still a schoolteacher at Hlakaniphani Primary School in Dlamini –the same neighbourhood in Soweto Jayiya still calls home. “Me and my mom are tight like this (sic) and she is the one that has always been pushing me,” he says, palming his hands together for emphasis. Of the day he put pen to paper as a Kaizer Chiefs player, Jayiya says: “Oh my mom was ecstatic.” “She was using my previous phone, which still had my twitter account active on it and when Chiefs broke the news she suddenly knew. She was actually singing on our street in Dlamini just to show how happy she was and by the time I got home she was waiting for me at the gate. When I asked why she was waiting at the gate she just exploded with joy. That just made me realise the weight of this move.” But then how did it happen that a boy who never went through any structured development and who went to a non-football playing school end up playing the game at a professional level? “Me and Chiefs … it is a childhood
love story that has come good,” says Jayiya. “I remember going to the stadium with my grandfather as a little kid in the 90’s. I watched the game on his shoulders and I enjoyed the game, even though I didn’t know any of the players at the time. I think my grandfather was just opening me up to football and my mom still keeps reminding me of those things up to now.” There is no stopping Jayiya when he talks about the Chiefs bond his family shares. “Both my parents were Chiefs fans. In my family Orlando Pirates fans have always been outnumbered. When I saw Chiefs playing when I was about 12, my love for this team grew, especially when they were winning trophies. So this is a dream come true. I have worked so hard and played for so many teams but getting this opportunity to play for the one that I actually supported from childhood is a blessing,” he notes.
After matric he got his chance to
pursue his football dream, although he had to convince his mom to allow him to take a gap year in 2009. He excelled while playing in the amateur leagues in Soweto and got a trial with the Bidboys – Bidvest Wits’ reserve team – where he was signed by Eric Tinkler after just a week. Just over a year later he was promoted into the senior team and made an amazing entrance scoring a brace on debut in February 2011 followed by another double in his second match. He had scored seven goals by the time he had played his first five games in the Premier Soccer League. He eventually ended that 2010/11 season with eight goals in 10 starts. Everyone took notice. After his grand arrival, the next 30 months that he spent at Wits brought a return of a mere three further goals with his loan move to Maritzburg United in January 2014 coming as no surprise. That move was refreshing and led to a switch to Mpumalanga Black Aces, which gave birth to Cape Town City last season. Luckily through it all, he has managed to complete his studies. “I actually finished my accounting degree and I am now supposed to do my articles as a chartered accountant,” he says. After a season in which he contributed six goals and six assists for City, the offer to renew his contract with The Citizens was not appealing enough to make him stay. “City offered me a contract renewal in April but for me it wasn’t enough to make me stay in Cape Town, especially when I had a six-month old baby at the time. Platinum Stars and Lamontville Golden Arrows enquired but then in the end it became a choice between the ‘Big Three’ as I strongly believed that this is time for a big step up,” he reveals. “I wanted a bigger stage and it was [a choice] between Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns. All three of them wanted me. Pirates were a maybe but then with all the politics there and them not doing well, it became difficult. With Sundowns, they were doing well but the only problem is that they have too many players so the decision came down to Chiefs who had the plus being that I am from Soweto and Chiefs is around the corner [from home].”
“The opportunities of playing were
better at Chiefs, whilst at Sundowns you could easily be forgotten about for six months just like at Pirates. With Sundowns I was also honest with myself, I looked at the players that they have in the positions that I play and compared to Chiefs and I realised that Chiefs is the best option. In the end it wasn’t a difficult decision because there was that small part telling me to go to Chiefs.” After all is said and done what matters is that he is up for the challenge. “Me coming from Soweto is a bonus because I understand the culture of the team and just how much we need to play for the fans. I have felt the love from the fans and as players, we need to play for them. Even in the hood everyone has expectations from me already but I am up for the challenge. The one thing about me is that I love challenges and I am up for this one no matter what. “At the end of the day it is not about me but rather the team. The team needs to win trophies and all I can aim to do is make a contribution. As long as the team does well I am okay. Chiefs have the quality to win trophies. This is Kaizer Chiefs and we need to always be a step ahead.” .
(Above) Jayiya in action at Cape Town Stadium against City rivals Ajax Cape Town.
(Above) Jayiya - voted Man of the Match when Cape Town City played Chippa United.