The white lie that unlocked doors for Terrence Mashego

Share

If prominent referee Zakhele Siwela did not heed that still small voice to start a festive tournament in Hammanskraal, 93 km from his kasi, Alex, Terrence Mashego’s breakthrough could have been deferred!

If Mashego had refused to join his peers in Hammanskraal for the festive tournament in 2016, he may have had to wait a little longer for his step forward!

If Pontsho Madumo had not arrived 15 minutes before the end of that decisive game, maybe the wait could have been a little longer for the dreadlocked fullback.

And if Siya Mareke had not conveniently told that white lie to Mthatha Bucks COO Lunga Tukute, perhaps Mashego’s career would have taken a whole different course.

While Siwela, pictured below, who officiated at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, grew up in Alex, he would visit Hammanskraal during the December holidays where his mother comes from.

“I noticed that during the festive season there are no activities in Hammanskraal and so I thought of starting a tournament that would entertain people. Some people discouraged me when I came up with the idea,” Siwela tells FARPost.

The tournament, dubbed Bolo Ya Rona, attracted teams from outside Hammanskraal and an invite was sent to Mashego’s friends in Mamelodi.

They had a team named PSG after the free-spending French side. The Mamz version of Paris Saint-Germain often gathered for money games, weekend encounters and a tournament like Bolo Ya Rona was something of utmost interest to them.

But that particular Saturday, Mashego, who was turning out for TUT in the Varsity League, was a bit hesitant. It was one of those lazy weekends for him.

“They called me and I said ‘I don’t want to come’. They insisted that I join them until I gave in,” Mashego tells FARPost.

Football was certainly something he had grown to love from a very young age. As early as five, his mom would buy him a soccer ball.

But there was a problem. The miscues of his unschooled left foot often broke their Mamelodi home’s windows. One window. Two windows. Three windows. Mom thought enough was enough.

He had to find another place to kick his ball. “I then joined a local team called Junior Lovers when I was six. I started off playing for the Under 11s before I was promoted to the Under 15s when I was 8.”

Two years later, he joined an amateur side based at Tuks. The nomadic youngster was off again two years later, this time joining the Arcadia Shepherds’ Under 13 side. “I played at Arcadia Shepherds for almost five years until Under 17 level,” he adds.

At that point, it was back to ekasi where he joined Morning Stars before the TUT stint as football looked like it could provide a rewarding career. All this while, he was playing as a traditional number 11.

“I used to play as a winger, and one time I was selected for the Under 21 Gauteng provincial squad. The guy who was playing left back lost his mom, and there were two wingers in the team. The coach then asked who would be able to play left back. I thought I could attack and defend, so I volunteered. That’s how I started playing as a left back,” Mashego explains.

Without a doubt, his decision to eventually go to Hammanskraal is a lesson that all great things have small beginnings. Madumo gets all emotional when telling the story of how he stumbled upon teenage Mashego.

Understandably so, the boy was his first discovery after he founded Cream Sports Management aimed at unearthing rural talent. It was on a sunny Saturday and like any other weekend, Madumo, who was employed by a local insurance company, had to work until 12 midday.

As soon as he knocked off from work in Sandton, there was one thing on his mind. The tournament in Hammanskraal. He had to dash to the Kanana Section of the trans-provincial region anchored in northern Gauteng province where 16 teams were slugging it out.

Those that had watched the teams in action had suggestions as to who Madumo could sign for his fledgling player management agency, which he had registered five months prior.

That was until he saw a youngster take a throw-in and follow through thereafter. “I first saw him taking a throw-in. He caught my eye and I started following him. I loved his energy, the commitment and the fighting spirit. I guess it was also instinct,” Madumo, pictured below, tells FARPost.

Straight after that game which Mashego’s team lost 3-1, he approached the then 20-year-old. The would-be agent wanted to introduce himself and see if he could sign him up as his first client.

“Pontsho approached me and told me he was sending players to Mthatha and he could add me to the list because he had been impressed. I thought it was a scam, but the following day he called me,” recalls Mashego.

Interestingly, a few days prior to that, Siya Mareke of Yo-Boy Management, who was already an established agent, had been inboxed by Madumo via Facebook. The aspiring agent was seeking guidance and advice.

Pontsho wanted to be an agent, so he gave me a call and said ‘I’ve got a good player, do you want to talk to your contacts’,” Mareke tells FARPost.

One of the rules he lives by in his line of work, which is probably standard for any serious agent, was that he watches a player a few times before recommending them. But, thanks to his gut feeling, he was ready to bend the rules. He would do it without a logical rationale.

“Something just said, ‘bend your rules’, I called Mthatha Bucks [who were in the NFD], I said I know the young man. They said book him a bus. But before we could organise, Lunga Tukute [the then COO of Mthatha Bucks] called and said they had just fired their coach and they wanted us to postpone the trip until a new coach was appointed,” says Mareke.

That’s where the little white lie came in. “I told him that the boy was already on his way.” It was just a little well-intentioned untruth and it meant everything had to be fast-tracked.

Mashego’s mother had to give consent. The second of her four children had to be put on the first bus available. On Sunday at 11am, Madumo went to Mamelodi to ask for the blessing of his new find’s mom. Thereafter, a 7pm bus was booked.

“At 4pm Pontsho picked me up and took me to the bus station. It would be a long 12 hour trip. I’d never travelled that long,” recalls Mashego.

After landing in Mthatha on Monday morning, he later trained with the rest of the team and immediately impressed.

“The club called Siya Mareke and told him ‘we’re signing this boy’. But they told him not to tell me because Coach Ian Palmer was going to arrive on Wednesday to take over as the new coach.”

Tukute recalls his first sighting of the teenager back in 2017. “I immediately saw his abilities, it was a question of him being young and the coaches wanting to take chances,” the former football administrator tells FARPost.

Luckily, the late Palmer was equally awe-struck upon laying his eyes on the converted left winger. He was going to keep him.

However, there was no action for the Mamelodi boy in his first season with the club. The following season 2017/18, he got to play in six games, but had to leave the club after Amathol’Amnyama were demoted from the NFD.

Mareke then organised a week-long trial with Mbombela United after which he was told there was no place for him. His next stop would be TS Galaxy, who had just purchased NFD status from Cape Town All Stars in May 2018.

They had more than enough players, and they sent all new trialists away. Again, beautiful instinct kicked in and the coach Vusi Mkhatshwa called his agent asking him to bring him again.

That is where his ride with TS Galaxy began, culminating in his first taste of cup glory when they beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 to lift the 2019 Nedbank Cup. He was also crowned 2019 Nedbank Cup Most Promising Player.

In October last year, the former Galaxy captain joined Cape Town City following two successful campaigns with the Rockets as he made 58 appearances for the team in the NFD – missing only two matches.

The 25-year-old, whose age is often mistaken for 23, has been brilliant on the left-flank for City, showing great stamina to work the touchline, while also offering plenty in attack with his pace on the ball. The man crowned City’s Signing of the Season after his maiden term with the club has finally been rewarded with a Bafana Bafana call-up for next month’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since I started playing football. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I was on a phone call with my mom, she was so excited,” the modest fullback says.

His coach Eric Tinkler this week revealed how Mashego has worked extremely hard to get where he is.

“Yesterday (Sunday) was a day off for everyone, except Terrence. He decided to come in and do extra training on his own. He ended up doing it by himself, and that just shows how dedicated and hard working the young man is,” Tinkler told journalists.

On Wednesday, as City thumped Swallows 4-0, he provided an assist, helping the Capetonians set up an MTN8 final date with his hometown club Sundowns.

Mashego is not only meticulous on the field of play. He is also hard at work reading for his Bachelor of Law (LLB) at the University of South Africa (UNISA).

“It’s not easy to manage the two, you need to create time. I don’t put pressure on myself. With Unisa you can do three modules per semester,” he explains.

However, the manner in which his career has unfolded provides a lesson that persistence is the attitude that breaks down mountains one rock at a time!

RELATED STORY: How a stint with Kaizer Chiefs changed Mduduzi Mdantsane’s life

By Mthokozisi Dube