Born and bred in Umnonjaneni, ‘a ‘small section’ in Tembisa, east of Johannesburg, Happy Mashiane might have not endured a difficult upbringing but in terms of his football career, it was not an easy road to get to the professional level.
Mashiane had to work his way up from playing in the township to now wearing the colours of one of the biggest football clubs in Africa.
The Chiefs defender credits his ‘good mentor’ Ghino Johnson of Future Through Football (FTF), a development team for always pushing him and laying a foundation for him to be spotted by ‘The Glamour Boys’.
“Since gaining promotion to the first team, my life changed for the better. But I still face challenges though, especially in this era that is dominated by social media,” revealed Mashiane.
“I knew that the East Rand produced some of the finest footballers and that encouraged me. I did not endure a difficult upbringing, but in terms of my football career, it was not an easy path to get to the professional level,” said the Chiefs left-back.
The 22-year-old South Africa junior international says he was fortunate to grow up under Johnson and play for his side FTF from 2014 January. “Ghino always told me that I have the potential to make it in the professional ranks. He always pushed me to work hard.
“Ghino started a development team called Future Through Football (FTF) which I played for. The team was based in Sandton. It was not easy, but he organised transport for us to travel to and from training. We had a great time with Ghino at FTF,” added Mashiane, who joined the ‘Amakhosi’s youth ranks in June 2014.
“After playing for under Ghino’s guidance for a few months, we then had an opportunity to play against Kaizer Chiefs U17 in the league. I impressed during the game and got invited to Kaizer Chiefs youth Academy for trials. As the saying goes, the rest is history. Here I am a ‘Glamour Boy’ today.”
After three and a half seasons with the Chiefs reserve side, Mashiane earned a promotion in January 2019 to Chiefs’ senior team and made his official debut for the first team against third-tier outfit Tornado FC from Mdantsane in the last year’s Nedbank Cup last 32 clash.
“Playing for the Academy comes with pressure knowing very well it is every young boy’s dream to be associated with the brand Kaizer Chiefs. I was one of the fortunate players to be accommodated in the Chiefs Academy. That came with the responsibility to be on my toes all the time.
“We were well looked after in the Academy, from nutritional meals, school transport and uniform. We had great mentors in the Academy. Legends such as Ryder Mofokeng, Ace Khuse and Arthur Zwane have been in the game for long and they played a huge role in our upbringing.
Mashiane won the 2017 COSAFA U-20 Cup and was part of the South African U23 team that finished in third place at the 2019 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (postponed due to Covid-19).
“I am proud to say the least. It is a great honour to play for Kaizer Chiefs and represent my country,” he said.
June is known as Youth month and each year on 16 June South Africa commemorates the 1976 Soweto uprising to pay tribute to learners who stood up against the apartheid government.
“My message to the youth is to respect and remember those who fought trying to make South Africa a better place,” concluded Mashiane.
By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi