Fran­cis Chansa

The former Or­lando Pi­rates goal­keeper de­scribes his life after foot­ball, while re­flect­ing on the tough times he en­dured on his way to the top.

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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,

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