Team­mates help star cope with fame

City mid­fielder No­dada in rich vein of form

Sunday World - - Sport - By Sihle Nde­bele

Hav­ing en­joyed ame­te­oric rise in the Premier Soc­cer League, diminu­tive yet re­silient Cape Town City mid­field mae­stro Thabo No­dada con­fesses that some­times he strug­gles to han­dle fame.

No­dada, 23, has estab­lished him­self as one of the key play­ers for City. Last sea­son he was voted as the Cape side’s player of the sea­son.

Barely four matches into the new cam­paign, the lad from Ix­opo, KwaZulu-Natal, had al­ready bagged two man of the match ac­co­lades. A can­did No­dada ad­mits that, spo­rad­i­cally, fame goes to his head.

“It’s over­whelm­ing. Some­times it [fame] goes to my head but­be­ing­close tose­nior­play­ers like Aubrey Ngoma, Le­bo­gang Manyama and Lehlo­honolo Ma­joro helps me,” said No­dada.

“They tell me to stay hum­ble and fo­cused. With­out them, I wouldn’t have man­aged to re­main grounded.”

No­dada burst onto the topflight scene in 2016 at now-de­funct Black Aces, who sold their Pre­mier­ship sta­tus to City. He re­mained at the club when they re­lo­cated to the Mother City.

The mid­fielder is good friends with US-born team­mate, Nana Akosah-Bem­pah, with whom he­s­hares a room.

No­dada also has a cousin who stud­ies at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity and they reg­u­larly spend time to­gether.

“I spend most of my spare time in­doors with Nana en­joy­ing PlaySta­tion games. Cape Town is beau­ti­ful, so we have many op­tions such as beaches and hik­ing,” he said.

No­dada is a ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion dropout. His foot­ball ca­reerin2016­came at­apriceas he hadto aban­don­his BCom fi­nance de­gree at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg (UJ).

“When I started play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally in 2014 I was do­ing my first year at UJ. The fol­low­ing year I signed a first team­con­tract in­June. Ini­tially, I could jug­gle foot­ball and my stud­ies be­cause I was not a reg­u­lar in the team,” he said

“In my third year I found it dif­fi­cult to bal­ance the two. I would play on a Tues­day and write a test on Wed­nes­day morn­ing. I de­cided to drop out. But I will fin­ish the re­main­ing year soon,” he said.

Thabo No­dada and his team­mate Nana Akosah-Bem­pah.

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