Kat­sande still in­spired by his soc­cer-mad dad

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MOHAU RAMASHIDJA

WHEN he first ar­rived at Kaizer Chiefs, Wil­lard Kat­sande quickly earned him­self a rep­u­ta­tion of a cen­tral mid­fielder known for mis­treat­ing the an­kles of oth­ers.

And that’s be­cause Kat­sande, who was still a di­a­mond in the rough in his style of play fol­low­ing his move from Ajax Cape Town to the Glam­our Boys back in 2011, was driven not to fail.

He couldn’t af­ford to. Be­ing the youngest of seven chil­dren, the Zim­babwe in­ter­na­tional was now a bread­win­ner for his fam­ily in Mu­toko.

His father, who had dreams of his son turn­ing pro once he grew older, passed on when Kat­sande was just 10.

To this day, the 31-year-old hard tack­ling mid­fielder plays with a date of his father’s pass­ing (25-02-1996) writ­ten with a marker pen on his left boot.

It re­minds him of the spe­cial mo­ments he shared with his old man, and how he was able to man­i­fest a dream they both had for his life.

Kat­sande reck­ons his dad is now smil­ing down on him, given the years he’s man­aged to play as a pro­fes­sional and he’s still go­ing strong.

“My dad would have been the most proud see­ing me play if he was still alive,” Kat­sande says. “He was the one who named me af­ter the late Zim­bab­wean foot­ball leg­end, Wil­lard Khu­malo. I re­mem­ber him tak­ing me to one of the big matches back in Zim­babwe when I was about seven. He ob­vi­ously had a pas­sion for the game, though he didn’t get to play it pro­fes­sion­ally.

“Things got a bit tough for us when my dad died, though” Kat­sande adds. “My mother wasn’t an ed­u­cated woman and that meant she had to work as a street ven­dor, just to pro­vide for the rest of the fam­ily, sell­ing fruit. I would help out when­ever I could dur­ing those days and when I turned pro, I asked her to stop al­to­gether be­cause I was now in a po­si­tion to pro­vide for the fam­ily.”

Kat­sande takes pride in what he has achieved in all of his years as a pro­fes­sional player, but still feels he can add more to his glit­ter­ing ca­reer with a few more league and cup ti­tles.

His cur­rent club, Amakhosi have failed to win any sil­ver­ware in the past two sea­sons, which they’ve spent un­der coach Steve Kom­phela. How­ever, Kat­sande reck­ons this could be their sea­son, should they con­tinue build­ing on the form they pro­duced to­wards the end of the last cam­paign.

“We’ve been work­ing on a few as­pects of our game (dur­ing the off sea­son) from where we left off from the past cam­paign,” Kat­sande says. “We played fan­tas­tic foot­ball and the only prob­lem was we con­ceded a whole lot of silly goals. We’ve been work­ing on our de­fen­sive shape ever since, try­ing to make ev­ery­body at the club un­der­stand that ev­ery­body is a de­fender, and not just the guys who are play­ing at the back. In or­der for one to be very strong in at­tack, they first need to be very solid in the rear­guard.

“The more you are jeal­ous of your goal be­ing in­fil­trated, the bet­ter the chances you are go­ing to have of win­ning your matches. Good de­fend­ing can win you cham­pi­onships.”

Mean­while, the mid­fielder is hop­ing his side will come out vic­to­ri­ous when they take on Or­lando Pi­rates in this week­end’s Car­ling Black La­bel Cham­pion Cup at FNB Sta­dium, adding that it will add to their con­fi­dence go­ing into the new sea­son.

“Most peo­ple view it as a pre-sea­son match,” Kat­sande says. “How­ever, there’s a his­tory be­tween these two clubs, which makes it al­ways in­ter­est­ing when­ever we meet.

“Many come from all dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, some even out­side, just to watch us play. This shows how im­por­tant this game is for our fans. We have to make sure that we de­fend our brag­ging rights this time around.”

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