Se­cret Foot­baller

Muti is used by many South African foot­ball clubs from am­a­teur level to top-flight, but very few know the full ex­tent the clubs and play­ers go through to per­form this su­per­sti­tious rit­ual. This edi­tion’s Se­cret Foot­baller is a former PSL and na­tional team

Kick Off - - INSIDE - played for lots of PSL clubs dur­ing my ca­reer, but Jomo Cos­mos used muti like no­body’s busi­ness. The club had a very strong cul­ture of us­ing muti. Some­times we would go to camp, not plan on how we were go­ing to beat the op­po­si­tion, but just bath with the

A former Jomo Cos­mos and South African youth in­ter­na­tional re­veals how a du­vet in a ho­tel caught fire in a hi­lar­i­ous muti-re­lated in­ci­dent

II re­call one day, two days be­fore we played against Or­lando Pi­rates, we went to a ho­tel in Greyston be­cause that is where the team pre­ferred to stay. We were told to come to the ho­tel on a Thurs­day and we all thought we would stay there and have team meet­ings about the up­com­ing match. When we ar­rived, we found a muti man wait­ing for us. We were all cu­ri­ous and won­dered who this old man was and what he was do­ing in the team ho­tel. The team man­age­ment then ex­plained to us that he was a muti man. We were told to cleanse first and then go to the bath­room to bath with muti. When you cleanse with muti, which is called uku­futha, you have to cover your­self with a blan­ket, but that day we used du­vets. As we were in the process of do­ing that, one of the du­vets caught fire by ac­ci­dent and chaos erupted. Be­fore the fire could spread, we man­aged to stop it. We were told to stay at the ho­tel un­til ev­ery­one fin­ished the process. The fol­low­ing day when we re­turned to camp, we found an­other muti man wait­ing for us. I looked at the other play­ers in amaze­ment and said, ‘No man, how many times do we have to bath with this stuff?’. And I was told to not for­get that we were play­ing against Or­lando Pi­rates. We were told Pi­rates had a much stronger muti than ours and that’s why we had to use two dif­fer­ent muti men. That day we didn’t sleep at all. We had to bath with some strong stuff that made the skin itch and I re­gret­ted go­ing there. No one could say any­thing or com­plain be­cause even the white play­ers were do­ing it. Ev­ery­one had to do it – the only way to avoid that was if you didn’t want to make the team. No one com­plained at all. But for­tu­nately we had enough time to rest dur­ing the day so that we could play. We played the match and drew 0-0. What I can tell you from my ex­pe­ri­ence of us­ing muti is that it’s all psy­cho­log­i­cal. If you be­lieve that it will work then it will, but if you don’t, then it won’t work. At Ajax Cape Town we used to pray and win matches with­out us­ing any muti. I re­mem­ber the time we were go­ing to play against Pi­rates at home. Pi­rates’ se­cu­rity wanted to go in­side New­lands Sta­dium to stick car­rots in­side the goal­posts. Our se­cu­rity re­fused, and the match had to be de­layed be­cause of those car­rots, though we were given the ex­cuse that the Pi­rates play­ers had runny stom­achs. I think about eight were re­port­edly ill, but when we heard the real story from the play­ers, they said it’s not be­cause they were ill, but be­cause of the muti they couldn’t use. We later went to Vosloorus to play against Jomo Cos­mos. When we ar­rived, we found a tray of 24 eggs in­side the dress­ing room. But we had no prob­lem with that, we just went in­side and used the dress­ing room. But when Cos­mos came to play us in Cape Town, coach Gor­don Ige­sund asked me, “What can we do to dis­turb Cos­mos?”. I re­mem­bered the eggs in­ci­dent and he said, “Let’s buy eggs and leave them in the vis­i­tors dress­ing room”. When Cos­mos ar­rived, they re­fused to en­ter the dress­ing room, think­ing that we were us­ing muti. We gave them the same treat­ment and they ended up us­ing the bus as a dress­ing room. It was all psy­cho­log­i­cal. Most teams use muti, es­pe­cially big teams from Gaut­eng. When you use muti for the first time, you get shocked, but you end up us­ing it be­cause it’s the club boss that tells you to. In one of the matches in Tho­hoyan­dou, we were play­ing against Black Leop­ards. We didn’t use the dress­ing room be­cause they also had muti. “Bra J” told me that he was im­pressed with my per­for­mance at train­ing, so I was ex­pect­ing to play. But when we got to Tho­hoyan­dou, he changed his start­ing line-up and I was no longer play­ing. I was very up­set and didn’t want to talk to any­one, but Bra J had other plans for me that day. His muti man gave him two short sticks. I was then given the two sticks and was told that if our team was at­tack­ing, I had to sep­a­rate the two sticks and if Black Leop­ards was at­tack­ing I had to put the sticks to­gether. But be­cause I was up­set, I de­cided to do the op­po­site – when Leop­ards were at­tack­ing I would open the sticks and when Cos­mos were at­tack­ing I would put them to­gether. Other play­ers said to me, ‘You are not go­ing to play to­day’. At half-time Bra J said, “Eish, some­one is sab­o­tag­ing us here. We gave him a task and he is not ex­e­cut­ing it.” I was so an­gry and told him I was not here to use the sticks and passed the sticks to Ra­bie Nkoane. We lost the match 3-1.


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