Author: NJ HoveEvery year, the 3rd Sunday of June is Father’s Day, a time when we celebrate the influential men who shape our lives with love, guidance and support. For Mamelodi Sundowns, Father’s Day holds a special significance beyond the accolades and victories on the pitch. It is a moment to honor not only the players’ prowess as athletes but also their roles as devoted fathers, navigating the delicate balance between football excellence and family responsibilities.
As the off-season provides a well-deserved break from the exhilarating pace of the game, our Sundowns heroes reflect on their dual roles—performing at their best on match days and nurturing their families with the same dedication and passion.

Join us as we explore the personal stories and heartfelt insights of players like Grant Kekana (Papa Tsitsi) and Terrence Mashego, discovering how they cherish the joys of fatherhood amidst the demands of their sporting careers.

Grant’s social media presence shows that he prioritises family and offers heartwarming glimpses into his life as a father to his son, Kgosietsile, who celebrated his seventh birthday in April.
“Balancing the demands of football with family life is challenging. The key is understanding that football requires a lot of sacrifices. Thankfully, my family gets it. They know Daddy has to work hard to provide for us all.”

Just like his teammate, Terrence also prioritises family bonds. On Valentine’s Day, his family cheered alongside hundreds of supporters to welcome Mashego and the Bafana Bafana team back at OR Tambo International Airport, celebrating their return from the AFCON games.

Mashego himself spoke about the joys of fatherhood: “The love and bond I share with my child is what I cherish most about being a dad. It brings a sense of purpose, fulfillment and joy that is irreplaceable. However, balancing fatherhood with the demands of professional football presents challenges. I make every effort to spend quality time with my son, especially after training and on off days.”
Grant also recognises that the most important thing as a father is to be present, no matter what. “Being there for my child’s growth is invaluable. Today’s moments create the memories they will cherish tomorrow. That is why I make sure to spend quality time with my son. We usually play with Lego builds, golf, or football, but what is more special is the time we spend together. Those bonding moments are priceless.”

Terrence echoed Grant’s sentiments, emphasising the importance of a father’s presence. “Be Present,” he stressed. “A present dad provides love, support and guidance, helping the child navigate life's challenges and build a strong sense of self-esteem, fostering healthy relationships with others.”

Terrence further elaborated on the impact of a present father: “Their presence significantly impacts a child’s overall well-being and development. Present dads provide stability, security and love, creating a strong foundation for the child to grow and reach their full potential.”

Terrence couldn't help but reminisce about the specialness of his first Father's Day. “Getting calls and Father’s Day messages for the first time was special,” he said with a smile.

Reflecting on how fatherhood has influenced his career, Grant shared, “The biggest lesson has been patience. I used to be impulsive, but having my son, Tsitsi, who is still young, has taught me to be patient. I need to be there to teach him everything because he needs me to show him the way.”

“Having a son has significantly changed my perspective on life. I am learning to be more selfless, not just living for myself but also for him. I represent those closest to me, those who believe in me and support me through good and bad times. I need to show up for them – living for something more than myself.”

Terrence has also experienced positive changes in his life since becoming a father. “There is a renewed sense of purpose in my life, on-and-of the field,” he reflects. “Being a Dad has given me a clear “why”. It’s not just about myself anymore, I know why I need to push myself harder, to dig a little deeper. It’s for my son, for my family. That makes all the difference.”
Terrence’s son, although young, has already started reaching milestones that fill him with pride. "My son is 10 months old now and he started walking. We try to familiarise him with outdoor activities," he said, chuckling, "The only words I normally hear are 'Papa' and 'Mama.' But I know he recognizes 'Cocomelon,' which is a big pandemic in our house."

Grant offered some heartfelt advice for other fathers: “The best thing you can do for your child is give them your time. Not just being there, but being present, playing with them, talking to them and supporting them. It is the moments we create together that matter most.”

Both players look forward to the future, eager to excel on the field and embrace their roles as fathers. Terrence mused on what his son might think when he's older. “He's too young to understand what's going on now,” Terrence chuckles. “But someday, when he's older, I can't wait to hear him ask, ‘Dad, what have you achieved in your life?’ That would be a truly special moment.”

Grant expressed his hopes for his son’s future. “Of course, it would be amazing to see him follow in his father's footsteps on the pitch,” Grant says with a smile. “He’s shown some real football talent, but he also excels in school. It is fantastic that he has a well-rounded skillset. Ultimately, I won’t pressure him into any path. My role is to be his biggest supporter, no matter what he chooses to pursue. He'll forge his own unique journey and I'll be there every step of the way.”
Both players look forward to the future, not only in their careers but also in their roles as fathers. In celebrating their stories, we are reminded of the profound impact that fathers have, shaping the next generation with the same dedication and passion that drives them on the field.