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THE RHYTHM OF THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: PABI COOPER TALKS ABOUT HER LOVE FOR MUSIC & FOOTBALL Author: Sijabulile NdlovuPhotos: Pabi CooperPaballo Basetsana Mothapo, popularly known as Pabi Cooper is a jack of all trades. The 22-year-old musician, dancer, footballer, and referee rose to fame following the release of her hit single ‘Isphithiphithi’ in 2021. Keeping the momentum going, the multi-talented artist went on to feature in some of Mzansi’s biggest Amapiano hits, alongside the likes of Mellow & Sleazy, as well as Focalistic. The Amapiano starlet released her debut EP ‘Cooperville’ in October of 2022, featuring her chart-topping hits ‘Waga Bitjie’ and ‘Banyana Ke Bafana’.
Following the success of her freshman project, Pabi Cooper hosted a star-studded music extravaganza recently called ‘Cooper FC Shutdown’ at Sunbet Arena in Times Square, Pretoria. According to the musician, the event was a celebration of music, football and her birthday which was on the same day as the event. PABI COOPER HAD A CHAT WITH THE MAMELODI SUNDOWNS DIGITAL MAGAZINE CREW TO DISCUSS HER MUSIC JOURNEY, AS WELL AS HER LOVE FOR FOOTBALL. When and how did your music journey begin? My music journey started in 2021 when I released my debut single, ‘Isphithiphithi.’ I started off as a footballer and a referee, which I enjoyed very much. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I had to decide whether I was going to wait for football to come back after the lockdown restrictions or do something else. That is when I started creating content which included dance videos that ended up attracting and building up my following on social media. On one random day, I decided to go to the studio and that is when I recorded my hit single, ‘Isphithiphithi.’ The rest is history. I will always believe that day was anointed because I can’t really explain how the journey started. What inspired your music extravaganza, Cooper FC Shutdown? Tell us more about the event. The event’s name is inspired by my love for football and music. I want to bring both of these worlds together. That is why I incorporated football terms into the event’s line-up by referring to artists as players, coaches, and referees. Most importantly, the event took place on my birthday which was on the 4th of March. When did you first fall in love with football? I grew up in a family of football supporters. My grandmother and uncles all enjoyed watching the sport. My love for the game grew stronger when I started playing it full-time in high school. I actually wanted to become a professional footballer, but God had other plans for my life. Who is your all-time favourite football icon? Itumeleng Khune. As a goalkeeper myself, I grew up looking up to him. If you had to play professional football, which position would you play? I would definitely be a goalkeeper. You've attended multiple Mamelodi Sundowns games this season. Which one has been your most cherished thus far? I have mostly enjoyed the big games where Masandawana have played against the likes of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. However, my favourite game thus far was the Tshwane Derby earlier this year when Mamelodi Sundowns played against their hometown rivals, SuperSport United. The atmosphere at the stadium was beautiful. I especially enjoyed the singing from the fans. We have witnessed many beautiful goals from Masandawana this season. Which goal has been the most memorable for you? Cassius Mailula's goal against Sekhukhune United earlier this was has been the most memorable for me. I remember telling one of my friends that he would probably score after coming in as a substitute and he did just that. As the head coach of Cooper FC, which three Masandawana players would you choose to be in your starting eleven? I would choose Teboho Mokoena, Themba Zwane, and Cassius Mailula. When asked about her music career plans for this year, Pabi Cooper revealed that she wanted to collaborate with other musicians and make more hits. She also mentioned that she hopes to release an album sometime this year.