Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
In one word - "special". But there are many adjectives to describe Teko "Ace" Modise, who has added much-needed impetus to the Orlando Pirates team.
He joined the Buccaneers at the beginning of the season but has already endeared himself to the side's myriad loyalists, thanks to his magic touch on the field.
Modise, who turns 25 on December 22, is happy to be a Buccaneer and is determined to help Pirates realise their dreams this season.
The Meadowlands, Soweto-born midfielder speaks to Sowetan sports reporter Mcelwa Nchabeleng about various issues, including his inclusion in the Bafana Bafana squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Ghana and his aspirations of plying his trade overseas.
Mcelwa Nchabeleng(MN): Teko, I have known you while you were still playing in the lower divisions and today you play for one of the biggest teams in Africa. Should I treat you differently now that you are a household name?
Teko Modise (TM): Why should you treat me differently from the Teko Modise that you knew before? I have never changed my attitude and I don't intend to do so, irrespective of which team I play for or accolades I get. My childhood friends are still my friends and I always hang with them ko kasi [in the township].
MN: Will I be wrong to describe you as a special player?
TM: This could be misleading because it would seems as if I'm the only special player at Orlando Pirates. We are all special players at Pirates and we contribute towards the success of the team as a collective.
MN: Are you nervous playing for a team like Pirates, which has a rich football history?
TM: One thing that makes me tick is that I always believe in myself. When the opportunity of playing for Pirates presented itself, I said to myself 'Teko, this is an opportunity you have been waiting for, so grab it with both hands. Work hard to ensure that you don't fail'. I feel very proud, honoured and encouraged in my career to be a Pirates player.
MN: Where have you been because many people only got to know about you when you joined SuperSport United in the 2005-06 season?
TM: I was playing for City Pillars [now Mpumalanga Black Aces] in the National First Division for four seasons. I started at Ria Stars' juniors until I was promoted to the senior team. I featured in a few matches in the elite league for Stars. I then moved to Pillars after Stars closed shop in 2002. I learnt a lot from playing for these teams. I'm also grateful to Mr Mongwe [Rabson, ex-Pillars boss] for allowing me to join SuperSport. He let me go despite the fact I was still contracted to his team.
MN: You showed a great deal of commitment and skill at Stars and Pillars but surprisingly you were not considered for the Under-20 and U-23 squads. Did anybody explain to you why you were overlooked?
TM: No one explained anything to me. To be honest with you, my exclusion from the squads did not bother me at all. Instead that encouraged me to work even harder to improve my game.
MN: Bafana Bafana's coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has selected a relatively young team for the Afcon next month. What is your take on the squad?
TM: I think coach Parreira did well to blend youth with experience. The Afcon will offer young players an invaluable experience and this will give the coach a pool of players to select for the 2010 World Cup. I also feel encouraged to be in the Afcon squad and this will certainly prepare me for 2010.
MN: Do you think Bafana can win the Afcon in Ghana?
TM: It is not all about winning a gold medal in Ghana but to give a good account of ourselves and prove to the world that we are ready for 2010. We can't put unnecessary pressure on us by predicting a gold medal. We have a very knowledgeable coach and are all encouraged.
MN: You were a Kaizer Chiefs fan when you were growing up and now you are playing for their rivals. How do you feel about that?
TM: I'm now a Pirates player and am fully focused on what I do for my club. As I said earlier, I became a Chiefs fan because of the influence of my father who was a staunch Amakhosi supporter.
MN: Coach Owen da Gama is a believer in youth and your performance so far suggests that you can win the league title this season. Do you think you have what it takes to achieve this?
TM: It is still early to make predictions. It is not going to be easy this season because almost all the teams are playing well. I think the title race could be decided late in the season, if not in the last match of the campaign.
MN: Age is still on your side and you can still fulfill your ultimate goal of playing abroad. Where do you wish to play overseas?
TM: I would like to play in Spain or France because their leagues are not only exciting but also competitive. Playing in these countries will certainly make me a better player.
MN: You are a fan of former Bucs captain Benedict "Tso" Vilakazi. What do you like about him?
TM: His utter commitment to the game and his fighting spirit. He is a fantastic player and always strives for perfection in his game. I was looking forward to playing with him when I joined Pirates.
MN: You started the season on an impressive note at Pirates. What can your supporters expect from you this term?
TM: I'm prepared to continue to work hard to help my team to fare well this season and maintain the smiles on the faces of our supporters.