The former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper describes his life after football, while reflecting on the tough times he endured on his way to the top.
Francis Chansa was born in the town of Lubumbashi in Zaire (now DRC), yet with the country sinking into a mess of civil unrest through his teenage years, Chansa had to flee to neighbouring Zambia where his football career began. However, just as he came out of his teenage years, Chansa continued his trek, negotiating his way from Zambia to Johannesburg where he briefly found comfort in the safe hands of fellow countryman and then Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Botende Eshele. In pursuit of a better life, he then boarded a train and moved to Durban where he had to sleep on the streets along with other refugees from his country through the first five months of his time in the coastal city. Luckily for him, he found a job packaging goods onto trucks while only playing football every morning in the open space where popular theme park uShaka Marine World now stands. “My life is good now, though totally different to the time when I was still playing. Compared to where I come from, I have every reason to say my life is good now,” he says. The depression that accompanies his voice when he turns back the hands of time to the days when he slept on the streets is testament to the rough ride he underwent in his younger years. “My life story is very long, and if we sit down to chat about it in detail, you could easily write a book,” Chansa says in reflecting on his football journey in South Africa, which began at Matatiele United Brothers. “It is unfortunate that I don’t have an opportunity to write a book. There were many club officials, from Bongani Mchunu, Rocky and Mato Madlala, Irvin Khoza and Lawrence Ngubane to Vusi Mvelase and Mlungisi ‘Professor’ Ngubane, who played a huge role in my life.”
Joining the professional ranks
After United, Chansa then turned out for Crystal Brains with whom he won promotion and played in the mini-league created to close the six-month gap when domestic football moved away from a full calendar year in 1996. Chansa would then go on to play for Durban Bush Bucks, Durban United, Royal Tigers, Golden Arrows, Orlando Pirates,