Coach Profile - Mawande Majiya

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7be9b0be-afc5-416b-972f-bbb8096780a8.jpg

“My name is Mawande. I was born 1st January 1996 in a small village called  Willowvale in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. I grew up in the community of Masiphumelele, and that is where I started to play soccer under the guidance of Coach Thomas. 

“Uniquely, in our community, everyone has a nickname. Mine is ‘D’wara’, a shorter form of ‘Mawande’, and it was given to me by the kids I grew up with. Similarly, Coach Mthandazo Ndabeni is known to all as ‘Coach Thomas’, a shorter and more universal pronunciation of ‘Mthandazo’. Funny nicknames occasionally pop up as well: ‘Chillibyte’ and ‘Beef’ are two boys who participate in all four CTYD programs. 

“When I was a child, CTYD was a much smaller sports education program which focused on soccer only, and the soccer team was called Juventas rather than Young Stars FC as it’s currently known. I joined the Juventas team in 2006. We did not have soccer kits or fancy boots, so instead we all tried to wear the same coloured t-shirts. We didn’t care whether or not we looked the part; all that mattered was that we were playing soccer. 

“Aged 12, in addition to soccer, I began to take part in the Ubuntu Surf Program. We used to surf every Friday and Saturday, and then we’d have soccer matches on Sundays where we’d showcase everything we’d learned during our weekday training. It was a jam-packed schedule! In hindsight, I realise that this was precisely what Coach Thomas wanted for us. If you are constantly busy, then you are never bored. In an environment like Masiphumelele, feeling bored and aimless can lead to dangerous consequences. Besides CTYD, there are little to no activities to occupy young people, so the less time you spend wandering the streets, observing bad habits like violence, theft, and drug use, the better. 

“In 2010, during the soccer World Cup, we had the opportunity to travel to Cape Town Stadium to watch France versus Uruguay. This is one of my favourite memories of my childhood, and still counts as one of the best days of my life. Coach Thomas would take us kids to places and events we never thought we’d ever get to see.  

“As I grew older, I witnessed many of my friends begin to waver from the set routines created by the surfing and soccer programs. Eventually, they stopped attending the sessions altogether. At a certain age, typically at the cusp of adulthood, a lot of Masiphumelele residents have their time and attention completely dominated by drugs or gang-related activities. This is the main reason as to why we struggle to form a strong senior team even today. 

“I was hugely disheartened by this change. I thought my team was broken, irreparable, but Coach Thomas refused to let this be the case. The teams became more mismatched as younger players came to fill in the gaps in the older teams, but at least everyone still had the chance to play. I chose to play for other teams rather than stay with the remnants of my previous one. I joined a team called Meadowridge in 2012, moving to Most Wanted after a short while, after which I decided to take a break from soccer altogether. 

“By the time I dusted off my boots and entered the field again, I was 19 and playing for the Fish Hoek Pirates. Regrettably, most likely due to my long break from the sport, my passion for soccer did not prevent me from engaging in the bad habits that had been the downfall of many of my friends. In my case, I became heavily involved with a local gang, and this was the reason I dropped out of school in 2014. 

“Time passed by and I completely lost contact with Coach Thomas and the boys at the soccer club. But, in March 2022, as fate would have it, I bumped into my former Coach and witnessed him running a soccer session with the enthusiastic young players that were flourishing in the opportunity that I’d left behind. I explained to Coach that I wasn’t in school, I wasn’t working, and I wasn’t really doing anything at this time. In response, to my utter surprise, Coach introduced me to the young players as a ‘legend’ of Young Stars FC. I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t expected to be described as a ‘legend’ at any point in my life, especially not at the age of 26! The kids all looked at me with such admiration, and I realised that I needed to prove myself to them. Coach was giving me another chance, and I wasn’t going to throw this one away. 

“I am now the Junior’s Football Coordinator at Coach Thomas Youth Development, fulfilling the coaching and administrative tasks for our youngest teams, and I love being able to give back to the organisation that gave me such a fun and safe childhood. 

“With joy, I watch CTYD grow not only in participants, but also in professionalism, programs, and impact on our community. Based on my own experience of being taught by Coach Thomas, I can confidently tell Bagotywa Bebatsha that our mission of ‘educating the kids of today to shape the world tomorrow’ has been successful.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *