Without a doubt, Brandon Truter is a man whose coaching career has seemingly been divinely orchestrated!
We’re done with the telephonic interview, and the courteous Truter has shared his engrossing football journey with such liberality.
Clearly, he has not held anything back. He has touched on his early years, the ups and downs, his failures, and the setbacks along the way, right through to what he would consider successes and major life strides.
Judiciously cautious about the present, he chooses to leave it to a ‘supreme being’, while buoyant about the future.
He has spoken about his challenging upbringing right in the heart of one of South Africa’s most dreaded neighbourhoods – the Cape Flats.
But before I hang up, there is something supposedly shut up in his bones blazing like fire that he cannot afford to keep from this stranger – a journalist he is speaking to for the first time. A scribe he has never even heard off.
“Can I share something with you,” he says politely, knowing pretty well that we had said our goodbyes and I had wished him well at Swallows FC this season.
Having been taught in my early days as a journalist that sometimes the story will come right at the end when the recorder has been turned off, I pay attention.
As he begins to tell this story, I get goosebumps. It’s the same heebie-jeebies I felt the day Owen Da Gama shared the story of how he discovered Kaizer Chiefs’ defence stalwart Eric Mathoho.
But Truter’s story goes like this. The Capetonian joined Durban side Royal Eagles on 30 June 2017. His job was quite a simple one. He would be second in charge to Allan Freese.
He had previously enjoyed stints with Milano United, FC Cape Town, Ikapa Sporting, Stellenbosch FC and Cape Town All Stars.
However, this was different. It would be the first time he would pack his bags and turn his back on the city that “raised him”. Of course, that was never an issue at all.
In any case, Truter had always been the go-to-guy at school. He fixed it all and had a sense of invincibility about him.
Off he was gone to Eagles and life started off brightly. But as doom would have it, a few months down the line, he was axed by Eagles.
So sudden, as always, was it that he didn’t even have enough money to move back to Cape Town with his luggage.
It caught him off-guard as life has a tendency of doing. All he had was his airfare to Cape Town, South Africa’s second-most populous city.
Until that point, Truter, feared by his peers at high school, was never one to give credence to divinity.
But with no one to look to, he remembers going up the mountain to introspect and ponder on a future that looked all bleak.
“Royal Eagles’ base is in the mountains, (and so) walking in the mountain I got to a point where I sat down and prayed for guidance,” he says referring to Pietermaritzburg’s Table Mountain located near Nagel Dam in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.
The splendid mountain is easily seen from the N3 Highway when looking east in the Ashburton area.
Beautiful as it is, Truter was not going there to gape at its majestic appearance. Even the idea to soul-search seemed a futile exercise at that point.
All he needed was a few hundreds of rand to pay for his luggage and go back home to his family.
“I didn’t know how I would take care of my family,” adds the father of two.
But before that, he had to make a plan to get himself and his luggage to the Mother City.
“That day I prayed and I asked God for help,” he tells FARPost.
Not knowing what to do, he set out to King Shaka Airport with all his luggage.
“On my way to the airport, Angelo Tshiclas called me and asked what I was doing.
“I told him I’d been fired and was travelling back to Cape Town, but I didn’t have money to move with my bags.
“He said ‘I will send you money’,” he recalls gleefully.
But his struggles were far from over. He had to think of how he would take care of his family. Again, he turned to his Maker on that two-hour flight.
“On the two-hour flight, I prayed,” he says. “When I got off the flight, I immediately got a call from Lunga (Ncwana, the owner of Cape Town All Stars).
“He was the first person to call me as soon as I switched on my phone. He said, ‘you must come see me immediately’.”
Ncwana had a job for him. It would not be another day without a job.
Coincidentally, his wife and son were being baptised at church the following Sunday and there was no way he would remain at home after the two answered prayers.
It is that particular day that the blaze shut up in his bones was set alight.
“I’m in church on Sunday and the Pastor kept on talking to me, saying, ‘I don’t know who you are, but I have a message for you from God’… I stood up and I got baptised that same day,” adds Truter whose WhatsApp profile picture, below, is a complete sermon on its own.
That was the beginning of his spiritual sojourn. In his mind, the previous few days’ occurrences all seemed divinely orchestrated.
From the loss of his job to the luggage intervention, and then the Cape Town All Stars job, and his baptism.
It was all the work of the Master in pursuit of his heart. Interestingly, the man who paid for his luggage, Angelo Tshiclas, vividly remembers the day.
As if to confirm it was merely God’s providence for Truter, Tshiclas refuses to take any credit, choosing to say, “what the right hand does, the left must not see.”
“I believe in God a lot; Brandon is a very good guy. God looks after him,” an unassuming Tshiclas tells FARPost.
While all this was happening, Richards Bay FC chairman, Jomo Biyela, had earmarked the man for a job at his club. Biyela wanted to hand ‘Brakkies’ his first substantive head coach position.
“(I first met him) when he was an assistant coach to Allan Freese at Royal Eagles.
“After that, he went to Cape Town All Stars where he was a caretaker coach. That’s when we met when we were playing against them in Richards Bay, we exchanged numbers.
“I identified his potential and his style of play. After they fired the head coach it gave me an opportunity to look at him properly,” he says.
On 15 June, 2018 Biyela appointed Truter head coach after the abrupt sale of Cape Town All Stars that would have left him jobless.
Truter took them on a fairy-tale run, turning them into title contenders. But when all was going well, Brakkies was forced to leave Richards Bay FC by some unresolved issues at the GladAfrica Championship club.
“Why would I leave a team that’s unbeaten and is going for the league and might win the league to join a team in 13th place?
“So, I was unhappy with some issues, I told the team manager that I’m thinking about resigning after the Jomo Cosmos game.
“He took it to the chairman while we were in Giyani and the chairman came and said ‘I heard you are resigning, I accept your resignation, you may leave.
“I tried begging him, I even said I didn’t say that at all, but he wouldn’t listen to me,” Truter explains.
It was back to square one.
Unemployment had reared its ugly head again. But not with his God. It would not be another day without a job.
While driving from Giyani to Johannesburg where he would catch a flight to Cape Town, he got another call.
More like the one he received after touching down at the Cape Town International Airport from Ncwana.
Swallows FC were keen on his services. Zeca Marques had struggled, getting the axe when the team was in 13th place with little hope of challenging for honours.
The Birds had only recorded one win in five games at that point. In their last 16 matches, Truter dramatically guided the Soweto giants to 12 wins, three draws, only tasting defeat once.
Cape Town’s go-to-guy guided the beautiful birds back into the topflight despite trailing hometown club Ajax Cape Town who were nine points ahead at the start of the PSL bio-bubble.
“He is a very kind person and down to earth. I’m so proud of Brandon because he is a hard worker and very professional. I’m watching him as we speak,” Tshiclas said just 10 minutes before the end of Swallows’ 1-1 draw with Orlando Pirates on Sunday.
Truter’s vision, he says, “is to do as well as I can”. Not one to be gushed by his team’s unbeaten run in the PSL after 10 rounds, the October/November DStv Coach of the Month winner chooses to take it one day at a time.
Looking unto the supreme being who has steered him to where he is, Truter is convinced His plan for his life and career will come to full manifestation.
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By Mthokozisi Dube