Good­man Maz­ibuko

Kick Off - - Inside -

The re­tired Moroka Swal­lows mid­fielder ex­plains why he la­bels all foot­ball peo­ple as “crooks” af­ter a dif­fi­cult end to his dis­tin­guished ca­reer in Dob­sonville.

His par­ents pre­dicted he would be a good man, so they named him Zem­sisi Good­man Maz­ibuko, who grew up to be an hon­est and hard­work­ing foot­baller who al­ways played with heart. Un­for­tu­nately the mid­fielder left the game bit­ter fol­low­ing the demise of Moroka Swal­lows, which is why he now la­bels all in­volved in foot­ball as “crooks” in this open in­ter­view with KICK OFF’s Love­more Moyo.

If there was ever a foot­baller whose game was solely mod­elled on al­ways giv­ing his all on the field, then Good­man Maz­ibuko was the per­fect text­book ex­am­ple of that.

The dili­gent mid­fielder never did any­thing fancy on the pitch, pre­fer­ring to keep it sim­ple in the cen­tre of the park by break­ing down op­po­si­tion moves and play­ing the sim­ple pass to a team­mate when in pos­ses­sion. He was never flowery even when fielded in wide po­si­tions, and was a dis­ci­plined player who coaches al­ways kept in the team due his ef­fec­tive tack­ling and pur­pose­ful pass­ing abil­ity. It was thus no sur­prise that he broke into a strong Qwaqwa Stars first team as a teenager in 1995, and quickly es­tab­lished him­self as a reg­u­lar in a side that had won the Coca-Cola Cup the pre­vi­ous year. By the time he left af­ter Ea Lla Koto were bought out by the league as part of the process of trim­ming down the di­vi­sion from 18 to 16 clubs in 2002, Maz­ibuko had made 239 starts with a sat­is­fac­tory re­turn of 24 goals. The then-27-year-old then joined Orlando Pi­rates where he lasted just a sea­son be­fore join­ing Soweto ri­vals Moroka Swal­lows where he played un­til he re­tired in 2009, aged 34. By the time he hung up his boots, Maz­ibuko had made 397 starts in pro­fes­sional club foot­ball, with five Bafana Bafana caps to his name. “I was never a skil­ful player, but I was al­ways a hard worker,” he ac­knowl­edges, be­fore dis­cussing why play­ers in his mould are now few and far be­tween. “I don’t know why play­ers like some of us are no longer there. Peo­ple used to tell me that I played as if Moroka

Swal­lows was my team from home. Peo­ple just didn’t un­der­stand the pas­sion I had for the game, and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the fact that one day I may never get this chance again is what pushed me. You must know that when you play, it is not only about you and your fam­ily, but many other peo­ple who sup­port you and the club, so you must put the chance to good use at all times. “Nowa­days you have play­ers who are not grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity and that is why I think most of our skil­ful play­ers don’t last in the game. Their ca­reers are shorter than those of the hard­work­ing play­ers with no skill. With hard­work­ing play­ers, you can change the coaches, but they will re­main in the team. Most of the time I never sat on the bench, yet I wasn’t skil­ful. My weapon was mak­ing sure that when I got onto the field, I worked hard and played like there wouldn’t be an­other game played. What was im­por­tant is that I could play for and with the team, with the aim of al­ways mak­ing sure I con­trib­ute.”

A new path

Maz­ibuko is now a sports of­fi­cer at the Univer­sity of Free State (Qwaqwa cam­pus) which houses SAB League team Ma­luti-a-Pho­fung As­so­ci­a­tion. The re­tired player’s task is to over­see all the sport­ing codes at the univer­sity, from vol­ley­ball and net­ball to cricket, ten­nis and foot­ball. “All sport­ing codes have coaches, so I’m not even coach­ing the foot­ball team,” he says be­fore ex­plain­ing how he landed the job. “I have been here for the past five months. It was a post that was ad­ver­tised, so I then ap­plied and got called for an in­ter­view to make a pre­sen­ta­tion for the first time in my life. The first ques­tion I was asked in that in­ter­view was what l could tell them about my­self. Since I had played pro­fes­sional foot­ball from 1995 to 2009, it meant they had to lis­ten to me for a long eight min­utes! I’m happy here be­cause I’m at home. “The best part about this job is that it is all about sports, so it is not like I’m in a com­pletely new ter­ri­tory. While I am learn­ing about other sports, I have to make sure that the one I know is pushed to the high­est level.” Maz­ibuko could have been a teacher by now, had he com­pleted his Sec­ondary School Teach­ing Di­ploma at the Siya Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion. “I didn’t com­plete my di­ploma be­cause of foot­ball com­mit­ments, but I still want to fin­ish the out­stand­ing sub­jects be­cause it will even­tu­ally come in handy in my cur­rent job,” he says. “An is­sue I re­alised while study­ing was that I would have had to be mark­ing books for classes of 80 stu­dents, so I knew I wouldn’t cope. Nowa­days it is bet­ter be­cause there are a lot of pri­vate schools.” Con­sid­er­ing the myr­iad of sto­ries be­ing told about the strug­gles of for­mer foot­ballers, Maz­ibuko ad­mits the tran­si­tion into the un­cer­tain post-play­ing pe­riod is no easy ride. “The truth is that when you re­tire, it be­comes a very dif­fi­cult phase in your life be­cause ev­ery­one shuns you,” he starts. “Club bosses are not fair to for­mer play­ers at times be­cause af­ter do­ing all these coach­ing cour­ses, you then don’t get the job and it seems they are happy to see you suf­fer­ing af­ter­wards. I have a CAF B Li­cence, but it hasn’t got­ten me a job with any club. The trou­ble with these cour­ses is that you go there with high ex­pec­ta­tions af­ter be­ing told you need qual­i­fi­ca­tions to get into coach­ing, but af­ter you get the pa­pers you don’t get a job and con­tinue be­ing told you have no coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It is frus­trat­ing. “Foot­ballers are un­for­tu­nate in that af­ter your play­ing days, there are no guar­an­tees of a job and the ex­pec­ta­tion is that you have a lot of money. Luck­ily, I have never had to go around beg­ging clubs be­cause I didn’t make foot­ball my only op­tion, plus I didn’t fall into the trap of not in­vest­ing in im­por­tant things. When peo­ple see you on tele­vi­sion, the ex­pec­ta­tion is that you are earn­ing a lot, yet at times club bosses don’t even pay all your sign­ing-on fees.” Based on his own ex­pe­ri­ence, Maz­ibuko feels be­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller brings more fi­nan­cial suf­fer­ing than re­ward.

"WHEN YOU PLAY, IT IS NOT ONLY ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAM­ILY, BUT MANY OTHER PEO­PLE WHO SUP­PORT YOU AND THE CLUB."

“About 70-80% of foot­ballers strug­gle when they stop play­ing and that is why if I had a son, I would dis­cour­age him from want­ing to be a pro­fes­sional foot­baller be­cause you will be plan­ning to suf­fer in your life,” says the fa­ther of two girls. “I’m lucky that my wife was al­ways work­ing, so even when it was a strug­gle af­ter I re­tired, we were still able to put food on the ta­ble for our daugh­ters. My first born is 16 and at­tends a pri­vate school, and she has it all set since one of my ben­e­fits here at the univer­sity is that my kids can study for free. The younger girl is 10 years old and also at a pri­vate school, so my big­gest worry, which has al­ways been my kids, is cov­ered for now.”

Strug­gles at Swal­lows

Af­ter all the ef­fort he put into the game as a player, Maz­ibuko was left with a sour taste in his mouth fol­low­ing a dif­fi­cult end to his ca­reer while in Dob­sonville. He un­der­stands that he will be la­belled bit­ter and an­gry by some based on the fact that this is what is said about most ex-foot­ballers, yet the mid­fielder says he felt used and abused by his last club Swal­lows. “Do you know that I once went a year with­out be­ing paid when I was as­sis­tant coach for the first team at Swal­lows, just be­cause I loved the club?” he re­veals. “I was us­ing my car to train­ing ev­ery day while I had kids to take care of. I was even us­ing money I wasn’t sup­posed to use for the sake of the team. They were promis­ing heaven and earth through all that time, even though it was ap­par­ent that the club was no longer be­ing run as pro­fes­sion­ally as be­fore. We didn’t even know who to ap­proach in management any­more if we had is­sues. I told [ex-Swal­lows boss] Leon Prins to be up­front so that we knew the truth. The team’s name has now been changed to Swal­lows FC be­cause they are run­ning away from pay­ing us what we are owed, which is not fair.” Non-pay­ment of salaries for a year is not all that has left Maz­ibuko hos­tile to­wards the game that brought him fame. “The worst thing was that even though there was UIF (Un­em­ploy­ment In­surance Fund) money be­ing de­ducted on our payslips, when I went to the UIF of­fices when I was out of work, I was told I was not ever reg­is­tered,” he says. “I was sur­prised that this kind of cheat­ing was go­ing on. Why is the PSL al­low­ing this? Where is the money be­ing de­ducted from play­ers’ salaries for UIF go­ing to if UIF knows noth­ing about it? I’m sure even up to now it is still the same with play­ers’ money be­ing de­ducted for UIF. This is when you start ask­ing if this league is be­ing run pro­fes­sion­ally. “This thing hurt me so much and led to me los­ing in­ter­est in watch­ing foot­ball on tele­vi­sion, not to even men­tion go­ing to the sta­dium. At times peo­ple get sur­prised when I don’t show in­ter­est in foot­ball. Even at the univer­sity I don’t play in the staff team be­cause I’m still hurt­ing. I just pre­fer to do of­fice work. I’m not even in­ter­ested in any se­niors’ foot­ball around here which is why I pre­fer help­ing kids be­cause I know that all foot­ball peo­ple are crooks, from A-Z. They will prom­ise you heaven and earth, yet at the end of the day when they chase you they don’t even con­sider that you are also a hu­man be­ing with a fam­ily that needs to eat. Nowa­days to watch a game for 15 min­utes is too much for me, and that is why I don’t even know what is hap­pen­ing in the game.”

"THIS THING HURT ME SO MUCH AND LED TO ME LOS­ING IN­TER­EST IN WATCH­ING FOOT­BALL ON TELE­VI­SION, NOT TO EVEN MEN­TION GO­ING TO THE STA­DIUM."

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