Samaai plans to set long jump pit on fire next year
Stars go down memory lane Athlete sets sights on superstardom
The Soweto derby has the power to capture the South African public in a manner that the Guptas could only dream of.
The seismic clash that was played at the FNB Stadium yesterday between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs divides families like few other occasions can. Those who have played in the derby struggle to find deserving words to use to describeit.
Former Amakhosi midfielder Jabulani Mendu provided some insight into the way everything changes in the week ahead of the showdown.
“It’s [in] the week before that it all starts. Everything starts on a Monday … bra Kaizer [Motaung] comes to training sessions. Usually you don’t see him, but he comes,” Mendu said.
“During the week, legends come to motivate the players. Everywhere you go, at the malls and petrol stations, everyone is saying we must get the win. Everything about derby week is stressful.”
Mendu, who is the coach of ABC Motsepe League outfit Baberwa FC, says his in-laws were always on his case on derby week.
“For someone like me, who married into a family of Pirates supporters, when I’d go visit nobody would talk to me, we’d only talk after the game.
“That taught me that in SA football is a religion. It is our culture and is bigger than any political party or anything like that.”
For former Buccaneers fan favourite Benedict Vilakazi, it was a case of ijob yijob (work comes first) as he grew up supporting Chiefs but ended up becoming a cause of their pain.
“Work is work and everything else came after. For me I worked for Pirates but supported Chiefs, so I have a soft spot for both,” Vilakazi said.
“For me the best team must win. I favoured Chiefs when I was young because I liked the kit and the colours, so I got attracted to them. My father was a Swallows fan and my mother was a Pirates fan.”
Mendu admitted that Vilakazi was a menace to the Glamour Boys.
“Vilakazi [gave] us problems. He would always score against us. He once hurt us in the last minute. That man took bonuses from us.” South African long jump star Ruswahl Samaai has been waiting patiently to deliver that signature performance on the international stage, it is in 2019 that he aims to finally make his mark on a global level.
The 27-year-old athlete has been knocking on the doorsteps of world superstardom for the past few seasons now. This year he clinched bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and finished second at the IAAF Diamond League finals in Switzerland.
He bagged gold in the African Championships in Nigeria, ahead of fancied compatriot Luvo Manyonga.
“This is only the beginning of something great. I told myself not to put any limits on myself. It has been a successful season but, like I said, there is more to come,” Samaai said.
The hardworking jumper has been living under the shadow of Paarl homeboy and Olympic silver medalist Manyonga. About their intense competition, Samaai said: “People have no idea what is going on within the competition zone. A lot of times people see myself with Luvo, talking. But people won’t understand what we are talking about.
“Yes it’s a rivalry and it is a good rivalry. He is one of the best in the world. Off the track we don’t talk much as on the track, so we are not that close of mates off the track.”
The major athletics event coming up next year is the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in September. Samaai will use the championships as preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
“The world champs is big because you have an opportunity to showcase the talent to the world before all attention turns to Tokyo.” The fourth year logistics student was recognised by his institution as he won the University of Johannesburg sportsman of the year award this month.
■ Bronze 2014 (Scotland)
■ Bronze 2018 (Australia) African championships
■ Bronze 2014 (Morocco)
■ Gold 2016 (SA)
■ Gold (Nigeria)
■ Bronze 2017 (UK) Continental Cup
■ Gold 2018 (Czech Republic)
Jabulani Mendu says the clash is a big occasion for both teams.
Benedict Vilakazi has always been a fan of ChiefsBenedict Vilakazi tormented Chiefs, the club he grew up supporting.
Ruswahl Samaai is preparing for Doha Games.