A 17-YEAR-OLD Ikamvalesizwe pupil, Silindokuhle Mapoko, from Kenton-on-Sea had the opportunity of a lifetime when a chance trip to Johannesburg ended up with him being introduced to the Orlando Pirates chairman, Ivan Khoza.
Mapoko, who plays soccer for the KTM Football Club in Kenton, impressed Khoza, who then arranged for the youth to train and practise with the Orlando Pirates first team.
KTM coach Moses Plaitjie told TotT that the Orlando Pirates coach was quite happy with Mapoko.
“He said he would have signed him, but for now he has to finish his school work before he comes back to train,” an excited Plaitjie said.
He said Khoza was so impressed with the manner that Mapoko conducted himself at the training session that he personally invited him for a dinner at the chairman’s house. Mapoko was also given a club shirt commemorating the 80th anniversary Orlando Pirates signed by the whole team.
Plaitjie spends several hours every week after work coaching and grooming his players in the latest trends in soccer for them to be the best they can be. He feels that if Mapoko has the proper support and resource structures he could be groomed for the big teams.
“He has the height, the discipline, physique, speed and the necessary aggression required for a top player,” said Plaitjie.
“No money can buy this feeling. I was pinching myself if this was real. We stay in an environment, despite having lots of talent, where not a lot happens for our athletes.
“It gives me more motivation to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said.
Plaitjie said there were other boys from Kenton who possess the potential to do very well in the sport. Two of his players were selected to represent the Sarah Baartman District in the Steve Tshwete Festival to be held in Graaff-Reinet on November 25a – a big tournament for juniors.
The coach said when he spoke to Mapoko on the phone the youngster said it was the best thing to ever happen in his life. Mapoko’s mother said she was very proud of her son. He was the first of her children to even come close to an opportunity like this.
“This is not a coincidence. God saw his hard work and sent him [Mapoko] to Johannesburg,” Plaitjie added.
The KTM FC consists of players under 21. Plaitjie is trying to get the club registered as an NGO which will allow him to receive funding as the team has very little in terms of gear.
“We are trying to groom these boys to be passionate about health, fitness, and knowing that football can pay well in the long run, aspire to be the best. But we want to ensure a balance is kept with education,”Plaitjie said.
“We often can’t go to play teams, like the recent friendly invitational to play Chippa United [a well-established club in Port Elizabeth] due to lack of transport which results in missed opportunities. Chippa United is looking to absorb younger players to groom them for their future teams,” said Plaitjie.