Goodman Mosele: Determined to break the cycle of poverty

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That Goodman Mosele’s maturity belies his age is an understatement! As we wind up a 30-minute telephonic interview, the soft-spoken midfielder says something remarkably profound for a young man his age.

“If I’m left with R5, I’d give my mother R3 and remain with R2,” he tells FARPost as he stresses that his family comes first.

Mosele, the last born in a family of five, is a bloke on a mission. While some of his age mates end up chasing bling bling, his thinking has ever been to change the status quo at home.

He has never forgotten that he was born into a family with limited resources to create opportunities to advance him and his siblings. Their situation simply meant they were stuck in the poverty trap.

His elder brother Luckyboy Mosele admits the limelight wasn’t a foreseeable option as they were growing up in poverty.

“When I look at where he is today, I can’t believe he is my young brother because of the circumstances we grew up under,” Luckyboy, who plays as a goalkeeper, tells FARPost.

He is not the only one who cannot believe how rapid his dream has unfolded. Even his young brother himself says he never expected such a swift ascendance in the game.

“It’s been a dream come true to play in the PSL, even though it came so early in my life,” says the 21-year-old.

The journey started humbly at Real Movers when he was just seven. Growing up in the dusty streets of Khuma Extension Six, a township near Stilfontein in the North West, the only available entertainment was diski.

Little did he know that it would later become his family’s ticket out of poverty. But those that witnessed his talent in its budding stages just knew he was destined for dizzy heights.

“He came to Stilfontein Real Hearts [from Real Movers] when he was just 13. We were playing in the SAB League. What caught our eye was the raw talent,” Collen Mamabolo, the owner of Real Hearts, tells FARPost.

Young Mosele, who stood head and shoulders above his peers, operated from one end of the pitch to the other like a boss.

“He was always taller than his age mates and always excelled,” Mamabolo recalls. He was the leader of the pack.

However, his family’s struggles were apparent from the onset. “They’re not so well off, they were having difficulties, but he was raised so well.”

The Real Hearts owner remembers how he single-handedly won them promotion to the ABC Motsepe League in 2016.

“I’ll never forget that game. We were playing Maf’ Rocks and he won the ball in the centre line and dribbled past everyone and scored a goal. We won 2-1 and made it into the ABC Motsepe League,” says Mamabolo.

Interestingly, the 1.76m tall star modestly singles out that game as one of his most memorable football matches even after four years of PSL action which yielded over 92 appearances in all competitions. You can tell he wants to shy away from taking the kind of credit Mamabolo wants to give him.

“That game remains in my mind, it was a play-off final. Sabahlanyisa [we drove them crazy], I haven’t forgotten it,” he says emphatically.

That turned out to be his last game for his hometown team as a brother to Baroka FC chairman Khurishi Mphahlele had been following the boy and three others.

“I have a brother in Klerksdorp who runs a business, I often visit during working trips. He recommended four boys and I took them to Lebowakgomo. We only signed two and the other two didn’t make it,” Mphahlele tells FARPost.

Although his early days at Bakgaga were difficult, the young lad later grew into the system and soared unstoppably high.

“I missed home so much. It was tough because it was my first time going away from my family. I didn’t know anyone at the club, so it was tough. I kept calling Colleen and my mother,” the national Under 23 team star adds.

While settling into life in Lebowakgomo, which lies 45 km southeast of the Limpopo capital of Polokwane, was challenging, what was clear was that the boy had pure talent.

“He was talented and that’s why he has played at every level for us. He played in the LFA, SAB, ABC and PSL. He told himself he was going far with his football. It’s what made him to be patient and work very hard to succeed,” Phahla Matsimela, who coached him in the MDC, tells FARPost.

Once the boy was settled in Lebowakgomo, Mphahlele visited the boy’s family eager to see where he came from.

“I saw the way they were living, and I made a commitment that we were going to build his family a 3-bedroomed house and half of his salary would go to his family,” the Baroka boss explains.

His sentiments were that it made little sense to play in the PSL, earn some decent money while your family is suffering back home. His parents and four siblings and their children were all living chockfully in a small RDP house.

“I wanted the boy to be free as he plays his football. I didn’t want a scenario where when he goes back home the environment is not good because the community would stigmatize him.

“They would say ‘look at your mother, she is struggling when you’re playing for a big team like Baroka’. I felt that would affect him.

“I also wanted him to have the mentality that says ‘I want to play football because I want to get my family out of poverty’,” explains Mphahlele, who adds that the boy became more than just an employee to him. He embraced him as his own son.

Clearly, the Baroka supremo and his adopted son shared the same vision and it was never an issue to agree on the construction of a decent home for his family.

“When I left home in 2016, the aim was to change my family’s lives. It’s that goal that always pushes me to work extra hard. I won’t lie, it’s not easy but I just have to keep going. I’m grateful Baroka were helpful with the building of my parents’ home and they’ve always guided me,” says the 2019/20 Young Player of the Season.

The Mphahleles also made sure the teenager continued with his studies after moving from Kopano Secondary School in Stilfontein to Vuyanimawethu. In fact, he recalls how at school they thought Mphahlele’s wife was actually his biological mother.

“They really took me like their own child. The school would call her [Mphahlele’s wife] whenever there was an issue at school,” the man who often operates as a deep-lying playmaker says.

Former SuperSport United, Bidvest Wits and Mpumalanga Black Aces midfielder Richard Rantjie, pictured above, who coached him at Real Hearts, says he is proud of the move to secure a home for his family.

“The first thing he did was to build his parents a house which is a beautiful thing. It’s amazing to see a young man do that sort of thing,” Rantjie tells FARPost.

While Orlando Pirates announced his signing earlier this week, the 2018 Telkom Knockout winner remains focused on his immediate assignment – the Tokyo Olympics later this month.

Donning a national team jersey, he says, has always been something he relished. “It’s extremely important for my career. I’ll learn a lot here. It’s my first time and I look forward to the experience,” says Mosele, the only professional footballer from the small township of Khuma.

When the Olympics are done and dusted, the chase for the ultimate dream continues. And it’s notably more than just excelling for skull and crossbones. “It’s every player’s dream to play in Europe and I’m no exception,” he says.

Mamabolo is convinced the world is yet to see the best of his prodigy. “I don’t think anybody has seen how great he is. The day he releases that shell, people will be amazed at the immense talent he possesses,” he says.

On the other hand, Mphahlele is like a father releasing their teenager for the first time to university. Maybe the University of Life right in Gauteng where many diski princes have floundered.

But the Baroka chairman is a contented parent. He has taught his boy everything there is to learn. “I’m fulfilled, I’ve done my work, and I’m grateful and want to do more work for other boys. Baroka must be the springboard for other boys as well so that they leave in a better state,” concludes Mphahlele.

His adoptive son gladly takes the baton stick, insisting there is a lot more he still has to do for his family. “We’re not there yet, I really want them to live a decent life.”

While at it, he looks to be a beacon of hope for his community.

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By Mthokozisi Dube