PETER PETERSEN

Soccer Laduma - - Make Your Point - By Lunga Adam

Hi Pikes, it’s been such a long time since you graced the pages of Soc­cer Lad­uma. How’s things?

Ah, all good, Lunga. I’m now a de­vel­op­ment coach at Maritzburg United, work­ing with the re­serve side and the MDC team. I think hav­ing worked with coaches like Roger de Sa, Fadlu Davids and Ernst Mid­den­dorp helped me a lot. I’ve en­joyed it so far and, in fact, while still play­ing, I had my own de­vel­op­ment project on the side, which is still run­ning from a school here in Maritzburg. It’s been in ex­is­tence for a cou­ple of years now… we’ve had the boys since nine years old and they are now 13 or 14. Surely in the next cou­ple of years you’ll see some of them com­ing through. But there are coaches run­ning that project and my main fo­cus is Maritzburg United.

Let’s talk about the good old days, and start right at the be­gin­ning.

I got into Hel­lenic when I was 13 or 14. It’s funny how I made it into the se­nior team be­cause, while play­ing for the U17 side, the right back in the U19 team got in­jured and the coach asked me to go and fill in for him. It hap­pened so quickly! It wasn’t easy, but the se­nior play­ers al­ways made you feel wel­come. It’s un­like to­day, where things are dif­fer­ent. But they were a lot harder on us. I mean, you had your An­drew Tucker, Ge­orge Moyo and all those guys. They made you feel like you were a young­ster, but in a good way. You had to run around with the goal­posts from one spot to an­other and all of that in record time, in case you were seen to be de­lay­ing your se­niors. Moyo would check up on us every now and then at the acad­emy and, with him, you would never leave a dirty plate after eat­ing. He would come and find you, and then tell you, “Come and wash your plate.” To­day’s play­ers wouldn’t sur­vive. Such ex­pe­ri­ences helped us grow quicker.

Hmmm.

We al­ways got up to mis­chief though, although I was never re­ally part of it. The boys would play dice in the dorm. We got stipends every month for toi­letries and, after ‘pay­day’, the lads would move the bed back and start play­ing. This con­tin­ued un­til they got caught by acad­emy head Mark Byrne, who wasn’t im­pressed at all! But it was clean, good fun. We never re­ally got a chance with Moyo – he was al­ways one up on us. I still feel it’s an area where we are lack­ing to­day – back then we had real lead­ers. This is not to dis­re­spect to­day’s play­ers, but that breed of lead­ers is no more in our game. Peter Petersen be­gan his play­ing ca­reer at home prov­ince side Hel­lenic at 17, hav­ing grad­u­ated from their youth struc­tures in 1998. He went on to en­joy a de­cent ca­reer, which in­cluded stints at Moroka Swal­lows and FC AK. It was in 2013/14, after a spell with Maritzburg United, that he de­cided his time on the pitch was up. As he re­calls, “I just felt that’s it for me. You get to a point where, once you don’t en­joy it any­more, it be­comes a prob­lem. I also bat­tled with in­juries.”

Things have changed.

Back then, we never camped be­fore games. You had your pre-match meal at home. I will never get enough of the mem­ory that Al­bert Kometsi used to eat 12 slices of bread with­out fail and top it off with a two-litre Coke two to three hours be­fore the game! Ha, ha, ha. I feel that if ever Gavin Hunt found out about that one, the brown stuff would have long hit the fan. To Kometsi’s credit, it al­ways worked for him, as he never strug­gled dur­ing games. We had some good times, man. I also re­call we once played at Hart­ley­vale Sta­dium against Su­per- Sport United… or was it still Pre­to­ria City at the time? That was when the late Thomas Madi­gage was air­lifted from the field to hos­pi­tal. I got home after the game and some of my friends asked me, “Are you a mur­derer?” I was like, “What are th­ese guys talk­ing about?” It was only when I watched the re­play of the game that I re­alised that I had gone into a tackle with Tommy and landed on top of him. What made it worse was that he had flu. Ha, ha, ha, my friends just never stopped teas­ing me about that one. I stayed a good four or five years at Hel­lenic, be­fore Moroka Swal­lows came call­ing.

How was it at the Dube Birds?

It was com­pletely dif­fer­ent to Cape Town. There, you do well for a cou­ple of games and the next time you walk in the street, peo­ple stop you and greet you. All of a sud­den, ev­ery­body knows you. In such an en­vi­ron­ment, it was easy to get car­ried away, but be­cause of the guid­ance I had re­ceived from the “se­nior” guys at Hel­lenic, I was al­ways grounded. At Swal­lows, I shared a room with Abram Isaks, who was a good guy. The two of us were very close. We had some good times. He was also one of those guys who could be char­ac­ters, but on the field, he meant busi­ness. I re­mem­ber one time the two of us were com­ing from break­fast and we were walk­ing back to our room. We were go­ing to play Man­ning Rangers that same day. We were laugh­ing and hav­ing a chat. As soon as we got into our room, we heard the phone ring­ing. It was a call from Vik­tor Bon­darenko, our coach, ha, ha, ha. He said, “You two, come to my room now!” We were think­ing to our­selves, “What now?” We walked into his room and… yho… the man blasted us! He said, “You are jok­ing too much! You’ve got a game to­day, you need to be se­ri­ous!” It’s safe to say that from then on we changed to game mode.

Tell us about the funny guys in the team.

You had Ge­orge Lekgetho. Naughty Mokoena was al­ways up to some­thing. There was also the late Jokho­nia ‘The Bull’ Cibi. I re­mem­ber one day he was munch­ing on ice cream while he was busy train­ing with the rest of the team. Just imag­ine that, ha, ha, ha! He was a funny char­ac­ter. But, with­out tak­ing any­thing away from the other guys, Cibi was some­thing else as a player. He could con­trol the game com­pletely. Same with Ju­naid Hart­ley. I al­ways heard peo­ple talk­ing about this guy and I re­ally didn’t un­der­stand why, un­til we played Golden Ar­rows the one time and I saw the full-blown Ju­naid Hart­ley. He was glid­ing past peo­ple. What he could do with the ball was un­be­liev­able.

You later left for Maritzburg United.

Ini­tially I didn’t want to come here, but Ian Palmer per­suaded me, as I had a good re­la­tion­ship with him. The team had been rel­e­gated to the NFD. I ar­rived at the club and saw the play­ers FL AS HB AC K! Best player I’ve ever faced: Too many to men­tion

Best player I’ve played with: Abram Isaks & Sipho Mn­gomezulu

Big­gest pay cheque: Can’t re­mem­ber now

Small­est pay cheque: R2 500

Favourite cur­rent player: For­tune Makaringe & Deon Hotto

Cur­rent oc­cu­pa­tion: Maritzburg United youth coach

For­mer teams: Hel­lenic, Moroka Swal­lows, FC AK, Maritzburg United there and my mind changed. I then had a chat with the chair­man (Farook Kado­dia) and Palmer. We had a good cam­paign that first sea­son and we won pro­mo­tion back to the PSL. We had a mix­ture of play­ers from all sorts of back­grounds and I al­ways say if you want to see the per­fect Rain­bow Nation, then this is the place to be, ha, ha. Mid­den­dorp was a per­fec­tion­ist and he called it as he saw it. He was pas­sion­ate about his job.

He had his mo­ments though!

I re­mem­ber one time we played AmaZulu in a cup game and they scored in the 89th minute. I think Fadlu was in­jured and I was made cap­tain that day. I left the field early, just as the fi­nal whis­tle went. As I ap­proached the change room, I heard Ernst shout­ing and there were no play­ers there yet. I de­cided to turn back and let him calm down first. Yho, he was fum­ing! It was only at train­ing the fol­low­ing day that the guys asked me what was go­ing on, as they too were too scared of him at that mo­ment. It was a silly goal that we had con­ceded and it was hap­pen­ing for the sec­ond time to us that sea­son. To make mat­ters worse, we played re­ally well that day. Ernst was one of those guys that lived for foot­ball and you learnt so much from him. If I had met him ear­lier in my ca­reer, I would have turned out a com­pletely dif­fer­ent player. It was good work­ing with him.

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