My fam­ily was di­vided on Sun­downs

Soccer Laduma - - Siyag Bhoza -

“Ev­ery time, he used to tell me not to lis­ten to other peo­ple.” “I didn’t care whether I lost a ball or not, I would just be all over the place.”

While many might be of the be­lief that ‘Golden Ar­rows ay­isafani (is no longer the same)’, what with the dearth of the kind of play­ers who used to make the team so ex­cit­ing to watch, there can be no doubt­ing that Nduduzo Sibiya be­longs to that cat­e­gory of play­ers, and the fact that he is a lo­cal strength­ens this ar­gu­ment fur­ther. No won­der he was said to have at­tracted the at­ten­tion of the big teams, most notably Mamelodi Sun­downs, two sea­sons ago, be­fore in­jury slowed his progress. Now look­ing to get back to the heights that saw him bag the Ned­bank Cup Player of the Tour­na­ment, not­with­stand­ing the strug­gles of the Dur­ban side, the 23-year-old mid­fielder tells Soc­cer Lad­uma’s Ce­line Abra­hams in this in­ter­view about his de­vel­op­ment as a player since mak­ing his PSL de­but.

Ce­line Abra­hams: Abafana Bes’thende re­turned to Dur­ban with a point on the week­end, after the 1-1 draw against Su­perS­port United. Are you sat­is­fied?

Nduduzo Sibiya: It was a big game for us. We have been trav­el­ing a lot in the past two weeks – we played three away games in the space of 10 days. Go­ing away to Su­perS­port, we re­ally needed the three points, but a draw away from home, yeah, we are happy with it even though we would have liked to get those two ex­tra points. We were un­der a bit of pres­sure from hav­ing so many games played in this short time, but as you saw against Su­perS­port, we tried our best and we man­aged to fight back. We did what we could on the day and we are look­ing for­ward now to our next game.

CA: It was two min­utes be­fore half­time blew that Mat­sat­santsa a Pi­tori took the lead. What did coach Clin­ton Larsen say to you at the break?

NS: He told us that we were play­ing well and that we needed to be more aware of what was hap­pen­ing in the game. We con­ceded a soft goal and he told us that in the sec­ond half we needed to be stronger at the back and make sure that our op­po­nents don’t find spa­ces eas­ily. He told us that we must go out and push to get back into the game and that is what we did. Any­thing could have hap­pened be­cause we had our chances.

CA: Su­luman, it’s not been a good start of the season for Golden Ar­rows. What’s hap­pen­ing?

NS: Yeah, it has been a slow one for us. We needed to sort out a few things and try to get ev­ery­one on the same page and I think the re­cent in­ter­na­tional break was a good one for us be­cause it gave us the chance to look back at what went wrong. I think we need to work more on scor­ing goals and keep­ing our de­fence solid so that we don’t con­cede. There were some games where we were sup­posed to walk away with the three points but didn’t. We need to get good results in or­der to get the mo­men­tum go­ing for us, but I be­lieve things will even­tu­ally work out for us. If the results don’t come, then it’s bad be­cause it means that we will be slip­ping down the log and that is some­thing we don’t want to hap­pen.

CA: Apart from the team’s slump, on a per­sonal note, you have been try­ing to get back into full fit­ness after suf­fer­ing a few nig­gles along the way. How’s that process been for you?

NS: It has been go­ing well for me. It was hard for me to lose my place in the se­nior team after I had worked so hard to get there, but I took those chal­lenges and now it’s work­ing out for me again. As you know, my jour­ney here has been a tough one, but I knew that this is what I wanted for my life and I al­ways work hard to be the best that I can be.

CA: Please share with our read­ers about your rise to star­dom.

NS: I grew up in La­montville and many of the boys there played soc­cer and had dreams of play­ing for a pro­fes­sional club. Some of them went to Ar­rows be­fore me and some of them didn’t make it. It was sad to see that and when they heard that I was go­ing there to try my

luck, they would tell me not to go. I was very young back then, but I thought about it and my fam­ily pushed me and told me not to lis­ten to ev­ery­one else and just take the chance. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for them be­cause some­times when you are young you lis­ten to all the peo­ple and when you look at those that didn’t make it and they were good play­ers, it makes you won­der if the same will hap­pen to you. I had to trust my­self and be­lieve in what I could do. I knew that if I work hard then any­thing could hap­pen for me.

CA: That was a chance to take!

NS: It was, but I wasn’t alone. My fam­ily was there for me, es­pe­cially my un­cle – Ngono Sibiya. He sup­ported me through­out that stage in my life and he used to take me to play all the time. There was this one time where he took me to a tour­na­ment where a few teams were play­ing, and he told me that one day he is also go­ing to see me play­ing in games too. Ev­ery time, he used to tell me not to lis­ten to other peo­ple be­cause some­times they don’t want the best for you. I lis­tened to him and took his ad­vice. My fam­ily has played a big NDUDUZO SIBIYA FACT FILE part in my ca­reer. There was a chance for me to go to Mamelodi Sun­downs when I was still do­ing grade 11, but they were against that move be­cause they said that I was still too young and they wanted me to be at home, fin­ish my stud­ies and then see what hap­pens after that.

CA: Wow, turn­ing down a move to Sun­downs…

NS: It was big! We had played a tour­na­ment in Mpumalanga and I did very well there. One of the Sun­downs scouts saw me there at the Kay Mot­sepe Cup and they showed in­ter­est in get­ting me to their club. At that time, I was per­form­ing at my high­est level. My fam­ily was di­vided – some wanted me to go and some didn’t, and I was in the mid­dle. I was look­ing at Sun­downs where there is a lot of ex­po­sure, it’s a big club and the money is there, but I had to think about my­self and my game-time. It was hard to turn that down, but I needed to learn more be­fore I could take on that chal­lenge of be­ing away from home and try­ing to make it at a big team. At that stage, I wasn’t get­ting paid at Ar­rows, so some of my fam­ily mem­bers were telling me that I should go there and start earn­ing money, but some­times there is more to life than money. I don’t know… maybe if I went there, I would have been get­ting loaned out or maybe I would have earned my place, but I wasn’t ready for that move. I was in-be­tween be- cause I wasn’t sure (about) what I was go­ing to do at the time. But my fam­ily and a few of my friends that I had been play­ing with since the age of eight spoke to me and they told me to stay and if the op­por­tu­nity comes again later in my life then at least I would be ready for it.

CA: Sure.

NS: I also felt that Ar­rows had given me a good chance and I wanted to do as much as I could to re­pay them for be­liev­ing in me so much. I was pro­moted to the U19 team when I was about 15 or 16 years old and I had been learn­ing a lot. So that’s also why I de­cided to just stay in the team and wait for an­other chance to come one day.

CA: It also seems like foot­ball runs in the fam­ily, as your grand­fa­ther, Spe­cial Sit­hole, played for AmaZulu back in the 1980s. Do you think the legacy that he left be­hind played a part in you want­ing to pur­sue a ca­reer in foot­ball?

NS: Yes, it did. I didn’t get a chance to watch him play be­cause I wasn’t born at that time, but from what ev­ery­one was say­ing around me about what a good player he was, I wanted to be like him. I wanted to keep that legacy running in my fam­ily. I got that chance to start my ca­reer at a young age and that op­por­tu­nity to play in the MDC was very good for me. The MDC helped us a lot be­cause, be­fore that, as the younger play­ers who weren’t in the se­nior team, we would just go to train­ing and then go sit at home. There was noth­ing much for us to do and that’s when some play­ers start to mess around be­cause they have a lot of time on their hands to do what­ever. When the MDC came in, it gave us a chance to play for some­thing. We, as the young boys, wanted to go into that league and do well for the club. From the first day, we said we wanted to win that league. What also made us work harder was that the coaches told us that if we play well in the MDC then we would get a chance to join the first team. That was big for us! We wanted to play in the PSL, so we gave our all in those games. I think be­ing un­der the guid­ance of coaches like coach Vusumuzi Vi­lakazi and coach Papi Zoth­wane, who were pro­fes­sional soc­cer play­ers, helped us a lot to learn more about the game and they gave us good de­vel­op­ment. They knew how to iden­tify our strengths and our weak­nesses. They gave us free­dom to play and things worked out well for us. At that time, I used to just play for the fans and not focus on what I could re­ally do and what the team needed me to do, so they used to call me aside and help me.

CA: Yeah.

NS: I was at that point where I just played. I didn’t care whether I lost a ball or not, I would just be all over the place, un­til they guided me. I al­ways had the tal­ent, but I needed to be… what can I say? I needed to be groomed, you see? They told me that I wasn’t go­ing to go any­where with that at­ti­tude and that I needed to change, so that’s when I started to focus more on the tech­ni­cal side of my game. Now I have grown and I am play­ing more di­rect foot­ball. I had to learn a lot of things be­cause I wanted to get my place and play in the PSL, but if I was mak­ing those lit­tle mis­takes, then the guys were go­ing to pun­ish me in the league. For any player, you need to grow and learn ev­ery day from your mis­takes and that is what I’m try­ing to do.

CA: Un­for­tu­nately, in­jury struck, and you were left out the next season and you had to go back into the MDC. How did that feel?

NS: Eish, that season didn’t work out for me. I was hop­ing to play more be­cause it was my sec­ond season in the first team and I wanted to do bet­ter, but it wasn’t meant to be. There was a time where I couldn’t train at all and it was hard for me. That set­back killed me emo­tion­ally be­cause you see your team­mates play­ing and then you can’t do any­thing but sit and watch them. It’s hard to go through that. Win­ning that award meant so much to me and then I had to just sit… tjo, that was hard! I re­ally wanted to play but, eish, the in­juries

were too much for me.

CA: Re­ports that the likes of Sun­downs and Or­lando Pi­rates are cir­cling you refuse to go away. What’s hap­pen­ing there?

NS: You know, it is a good thing to have other clubs look­ing at you and like what you are do­ing, but I can’t talk too much about those things be­cause I am here at Ar­rows. Maybe one day I will be play­ing for the big teams in the coun­try, but my job is to put my team first and do well for them.

CA: Su­luman, all the best go­ing for­ward!

NS: Thank you so much. To dis­cuss this in­ter­view with Ce­line, tweet her on

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