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THE CHAIRMAN'SLETTERPhotos: Sundowns MediaOLA MASANDAWANA! Welcome to the first edition of your Mamelodi Sundowns Magazine for 2023! It has been a very fast and frenetic start to the year for everyone at Chloorkop, and although our Digital Magazine Crew missed the chance to wish you well in January, we hope that Bafana Ba Style’s successful start to the 2023 calendar has had a positive effect on your year. In January, we took it upon ourselves to ensure that 2023 began with the club connecting with children from our communities. The start of the academic calendar can be stressful for some youngsters because of the challenges their parents face when paying for school fees, buying books and clothes. As you will discover in the pages to follow, The Brazilians engaged in numerous initiatives that aimed at helping learners start their year with hope and happiness, from providing a year's worth of free online education courses for all supporters, to handing out hundreds of school shoes and covering books for kids from disadvantaged communities.
Our team believes that there is no limit to what anyone can achieve, it is the motto that we wear on our hearts, therefore it was very important for us to play a small role in helping these children return to school with confidence. I would like to commend the men’s and ladies team players who brought their unique presence to these events, as well as the staff members who participated in these special programmes.
This latest edition of the digital magazine builds on the message that we started in January by celebrating the youth. We have exciting articles about some of the club’s most promising young players and the coaches who have nurtured their exceptional talent. Club Chairman,Tlhopie Motsepe, handing out stationary and magazines to learnersOne cannot talk about exceptional players and talented coaches without mentioning the inspirational ascent of Cassius Mailula and our Head Coach, Rulani Mokwena. Both men will say that they owe their recent accomplishments to the players and the technical team around them - which I agree with completely. However, I find powerful lessons that young people can learn from in each of these men’s current success. In Cassius’s case, we find a young man who has emerged as one of the best goal scorers in the league and suddenly had the attention of the country thrust upon him - yet he has remained the same hard working and humble athlete that played for Coach Sapula in our Academy.
I hope Cassius doesn’t mind that I reveal his secrets to our readers, but I have been told by many staff members that he and Ntando Nkosi (another promising youngster in the club) often stay after training sessions to practice on their own. I must admit that there are other players who also practice after training sessions too (e.g. Peter Shalulile, Teboho Mokoena, and Percy Tau was known to do this at Chloorkop during his time) but young people can learn from Cassius that extra time spent perfecting your craft is always the best way to get closer to your dreams. There is a famous quote that says “work hard in silence and let success be your noise”, many successful people understand this concept and apply it to their daily lives.
Coach Rulani was the youngest coach to win the PSL title back in the 2011/22 season, his path to the position of Head Coach at Mamelodi Sundowns was one that was not easily attained, especially at 35 years old. Under Rulani’s leadership, the Club has won its first ever Carling Black Label Cup, securing two clean sheets and scoring seven goals on its way to clinching the day long competition. He has been called a genius, a student of the game and a mastermind. However, the lesson young people can learn from Rulani is that he holds himself to the highest standards. He does not cut corners when it comes to preparing for matches, and he takes his job very seriously; I doubt that there is a Coach who works as hard as he does - that is the reason he is at the top of his game. For young people in any profession, the best thing you can do for your own personal growth is to demand the best of yourself and stay committed to your goals, even when you feel tired or demoralized. When I think about Coach Rulani’s work ethic, the words of the late Kobe Bryant come to mind, who said, “Dedication sees dreams come true.“ Stay dedicated, but don’t just hold on to your dream, dedicate time (a lot of time) to achieving it.
Two of our longest serving players, Andile Dlamini and Themba Zwane, who both represent Banyana Banyana and Bafana Bafana respectively, were proudly recognised at the recent SA Sport Awards. Themba was awarded the People’s Choice Award (which is voted for by the public) and Andile walked away with two trophies - Sport Personality of the Year Award and Minister’s Excellence Award. On their paths to success, each player had their commitment to their dreams tested. When he first signed for the Football Club, Themba had to go on loan before establishing himself in the first team; and Andile overcame a bout of Covid 19 in 2021 that would have destabilized many. Both players never gave up when times were challenging- and today they are role models at club and national team level.
There is a unique sense of pride that resonates in the hearts of us all whenever we see an academy player or coach step onto the premier league stage for the first time. Thus far, the Yellow Nation has risen to their feet to applaud the debuts of academy players such as Cassius Mailula, Ntando Nkosi, Siyanda Nyanga, Thando Buthelezi, Jerome Karelse and the 16 year old starlet – Siyabonga Mabena.
However, we have enjoyed similar joy when we were introduced to a promising pair of female academy players who have made their debuts in our Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies team. Lumka Qhekeka and Siphesihle Magazi are two fantastic young footballers who have shown their peers and supporters of Banyana Ba Style that the future of our women’s team is bright. Again, we cannot stray too far when mentioning young players without recognising another exciting young group of coaches: Andile Dlamini, Andisiwe Mgcoyi, Rhoda Mulaudzi and Zanele Nhlapo, who have all earned their SAFA D licences and are already playing a role in coaching the U15’s girls in our Academy. On the topic of the D licence, there has been a surprising amount of attention paid to the fact that I recently enrolled for my SAFA coaching badges. I would like to give the supporters of the club clarity and context on why I have chosen to do this and put aside any concerns that some may have about my intentions to coach. I am taking the course because as a leader in our institution, I believe it is important to understand the challenges that development coaches and young players face; and ensure that our investments in grassroot football are done in a way that not only benefits the club, but our country too. Franklin D Roosevelt once said “we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
In conclusion, It’s important to remember that our youth are what they are because of those who came before them. Whatever greatness that is achieved by a young person is enhanced with the experience of the elders. In business and life, the youth need mentors to give guidance ensuring that the next generation goes farther than the one before. The celebration of young people’s accomplishments is a credit to those who raised them and helped nurture their talent.
As such I would like to say a special “thank you” to all the mothers and fathers, the grandparents, the teachers, the older siblings, the mentors; and at Mamelodi Sundowns, a special thank you goes out to all the coaches who have sacrificed their time and energy to develop our youth into better people and special players. Thank you all, enjoy the magazine and best wishes for the rest of the year.