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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SIBUSISO MDAMBA

Mdamba highlights the difficulties in becoming a professional for players from rural areas

Being a professional footballer is one of the most financially rewarding careers but you have to be in a football-developed area to acquire opportunities.

Usually, kids that grow up in the rural areas are far away from securing development teams, academies, and school of excellence opportunities.

The former Jomo Cosmos man, Sibusiso Mdamba is one of the few players who grew up in villages yet succeeded in becoming a professional footballer despite a rough journey.

He recently shared his story with My Two Cents about obstacles that aspiring footballers in rural areas encounter.

Known as “Master”, Mdamba hails from dusty Mpangeni and he said he didn’t get a proper development in football.

“Since I grew up in the village, I didn’t get a chance to be properly developed on the basics in football. Nevertheless, I was very talented and coming from a footballing family.

“Football in rural areas is extremely different from the townships and urban areas. The coaching (villages) hasn’t evolved and they still utilize the old methods and formations to develop kids,” he added.

The lack of proper facilities and shortage of equipment is one of the main challenges in rural areas. For the talent to be nurtured, they need these resources.

“You hardly find a coach in rural areas with three or four balls, cones, poles, etc. They don’t do drills while in urban areas drills help them to understand the game even more.

“What they do (rural areas), they run around the ground and play 11 versus 11. Their focus is on scoring goals.”

When these talented lads relocate to urban areas, they find it hard to refashion the way they play. Mdamba said having a big heart and resistence to giving up helped him succeed.

“The players in rural areas usually have big hearts even though they’re not as developed as in urban areas. That’s why sometimes you’ll find them being the star players in their teams.

“When I relocated to Durban, I had to learn a lot in a hard way. But the fact that I had a big heart and the talent, I was able to learn.”

In 2008 Mdamba got a tryout for the AmaZulu FC B team and was signed before he was promoted to the senior team in 2011 by Clive Barker and Neil Tovey.

The Mpangeni born star transferred to African Warriors in 2012 before joining Jomo Cosmos in 2015.

Mdamba said he didn’t have a place to stay when he moved to Durban and had to make plans because he had immense love for the game.

“Quite frankly, It was very difficult because I was young and when I came to AmaZulu, they had no clubhouse. So I had to find somebody to stay with.”

Mdamba mentioned that there are no shortcuts in football, you learn, you perform and wait for your time for promotions.

“The advice I’d give to the villages’ aspiring footballers is that you need to persevere, respect yourself, the coaches, and the game itself while also staying away from bad habits.”

SAFA, Academies, PSL teams must extend their talent search, reach the rural places to identify young talent as this will pay off in future. School tournaments should also be encouraged.

Written by Sinethemba

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