Katsande still inspired by his soccer-mad dad
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.”