When Sifiso Mlungwana’s mother passed away in 2006, she left her son with a clear instruction to never waste his time playing football and to just focus on getting himself some education.
His grandparents who stepped in to raise the now 2020/21 PSL Goalkeeper of the Season nominee and Lamontville Golden Arrows shot-stopper, emphasized that instruction on their grandson, and made sure to whip him back to order every once in a while, each time he drifted away from the already set path.
Not that football was the most hated sporting code in the Mlungwana household that they would continuously discouraged their grandson from participating in it. In fact; far from it.
However, Mlungwana’s grandparents understood the benefits of getting oneself an education and the power it held in turning one’s life around. They want that kind of soft life for their grandson. And so did Muungwana’s late mother.
The gifted shot-stopper giggles at this recollection of memory and how he was able to honour both his grandparents and late mother’s wishes, while pursuing his personal aspirations of becoming a professional footballer.
Just last year, the 24-year old was finalising his Sports Science degree with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, while working his way in cementing his place in Abafana Bes’thende’ starting XI between the poles.
In this campaign, he has been a consistent feature which has seen Golden Arrows challenge in maintaining their top three finish this season.
The possibility of the fact Arrows, who are currently third on the DStv Premiership table just four points behind second-placed AmaZulu FC, do have a potential of overtaking their neighbours in that position should Usuthu blander in their remaining two league fixtures, excites Mlungwana greatly.
“I used to get whipped a lot by my grandparents for just playing football whilst growing up,” Mlungwana recalls. “They just didn’t want me to play the sport and so did my late mother. It is only after I had started studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal that I finally got the opportunity to play the sport. I started off with trying my luck out in rugby and when they found out, they interrogated me about it. My reasoning was that I thought that it was only football that they didn’t want me to play, however, other sporting codes they were okay with,” Mlungwana chuckles at his then mischievous reasoning he gave, which eventually saw his grandparents give in to letting him play a bit of sport.
“Just recently, the family found out about my nomination for the PSL Goalkeeper of the Season and they were all happy for me,” Mlungwana adds. “It felt great seeing my name on that list as this is one of the objectives I had set for myself this season. The other one was to help the team reach its season’s objective of finishing within the top three of the DStv Premiership and we are almost there. We are just four points behind AmaZulu and if we do our part in winning our remaining two matches, who knows, we might finish in a Caf Champions League qualification spot this season.”
Meanwhile, Abafana Bes’thende will lock horns with Kaizer Chiefs today at FNB Stadium (Kick-off 17h00) and Mlungwana said he and his teammates were gunning for nothing maximum points in this tie.
“When we started off this season by winning the Q-Innovation Quarter Two award people said that it was early days and that we would eventually burn out,” Mlungwana says.
“We didn’t pay that any mind and continued doing what was already working for us, which is taking it one game at a time. The Chiefs game is another match we’ll have to push for a win as we step towards achieving our dream this season.”
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By Mohau Ramashidja