Campus Life

Balanced like Beckham

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A triumph over Tuks is the only thing the Wits men’s soccer team needs to go through to the Gauteng finals of the national university league.

If the team reaches one of the top three places, they will go on to the University Sports South Africa (USSA) national championships in Durban.  Attaining a position in the top eight will qualify Wits for the Varsity Football league, which they failed to do last year, explained Coach Karabo Mogudi.

Mogudi has coached the team for the past four years and said the team this year is more balanced.  “Not to say last year’s team was weak, but it was not balanced,” he said.  The team has more endurance as their physical fitness was maximised (prioritised).  The players are also more “versatile” and “multifunctional”, able to change their approach.  “Our top three performers can play in any three positions.”

Although there are strong individuals, Mogudi said there are no star players.  “The team should be the star.  I don’t want individualism… if the team wins, the players shine.  It’s that simple,” he said.

Team captain Tebogo Digoamaje, 2nd year BSc property studies, joined the team last year and agreed that the performance this season is better especially because the squad is bigger.  About 25 players are registered for the USSA Gauteng League.  Last year the smaller team battled without squad rotations between games, “It really killed us”, said Mogudi.

Digoamaje said the team was more united.  “We sing on the bus to games, we sing in the changing rooms, we are just united.  There’s cohesion in the team, there’s brotherhood.”  He said players continued to help each other beyond the field in social and academic areas.  “We are really a tightly knit unit”.

Left wing Neo Makua, 3rd year BSc quantity, said the players were more determined this year.  “The coach made us become a team, so we put the team before the individual”.  Midfielder, Mahle Mtabane, 1st year BA who joined the team this year said he learnt about teamwork, playing on the Wits team.  “At high school I was one of the stars, but the best thing I learnt was teamwork”.

Digoamaje said their fiercest competition this year was themselves.  Matches they lost were due to mistakes they made, as opposed to opponents performing better.  “We’ve faced competition that has put up a great fight but we’ve put up a fight that has helped us to gain victory”.

Mogudi is confident in the teams tactics and credits his technical team, assistant coach Dumisani Thusi, goalkeeper coach Kgabo Ditsebe and team manager Sanele Nene for developing ideas.

Recruiting balanced students to take on vacant positions left by graduates has proved to be a difficult task given the limited number of bursaries available for players.

Mogudi said it is difficult to compete with offers from other varsities like the University of Johannesburg which provide full bursaries for players which cover tuition, accommodation, food, rehab and gym.  At Wits, the amount awarded to players barely covers registration costs.  There are plans to provide players full bursaries if the budget presented to the finance committee is approved.

Mogudi said they have been planning for their opponent, Tuks.  “They are good football players.  They play high intensity football which is a strong point for them,” but Mogudi believes his team could beat them on their own turf when they take on them on September 23, at 8.30pm.  “I’ve prepared the team to play the same as well.  They must bring it on because we know we going to bring it too”.

Transport to Pretoria will be available for Witsies who want to attend the match.   Email [email protected] or phone 08229933.

 

By Lameez Omarjee