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Mokete Mogaila's fine balancing act of soccer, books

Highlands' Mokete Mogaila has a bright future in and out of the game as he's prioritised his studies while playing. /Grant Pitcher/ Gallo Images
Highlands' Mokete Mogaila has a bright future in and out of the game as he's prioritised his studies while playing. /Grant Pitcher/ Gallo Images

Exciting Highlands Park winger Mokete Mogaila is making it in football and education against all odds.

Mogaila, 23, hails from Ga-Mashashane outside Polokwane in Limpopo. This is where it all began for him.

He's a second-born child in a family of three and has never met his father. Mogaila credits his "superhero" mom for his upbringing and said he's never slept on an empty stomach.

Mogaila came through the Mpumalanga Black Aces Academy where he played alongside SuperSport United's Aubrey Modiba.

After the club was sold in mid-2016 and renamed Cape Town City, he starred for Alexandra United in the ABC Motsepe League.

In 2015, he took a gap year and focused on his football, but was able to enrol at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) at the beginning of 2017 and has been studying mathematical science - majoring in computer science and applied maths.

Through UJ, he was able to continue playing football in the SAB League and the Varsity Cup.

He was snapped up by Highlands Park late last year after impressing in the Varsity Cup and given a six-month deal, with an option to renew for two years.

"It's been a long journey, but I'm here now and I'm happy. I've been looking forward to be in this place for a long time and I've got the opportunity," Mogaila said from the club's training ground at Balfour Park Sports Ground.

With seven PSL appearances to his name, he's had a great start in the colours of the Lions of the North.

Mogaila, who's in his third year at UJ, is confident he can balance football and education.

"It's not that easy to balance education with being a professional footballer, because the course that I'm doing is demanding a lot. I'm doing a lot of modules and most of the time I have to be in class.

"But what matters the most, and this is key, is time management. So what are you doing with your free time? Now that I'm done with training, I have to go cover whatever was done in the morning class. It takes a lot of character and determination."

Mogaila's coach Owen da Gama reckons the player has a very bright future in the game.

"You know, this guy is studying applied mathematics and sciences, so he's a brilliant boy," Da Gama commented.

"So I think his level of receptivity is very good. He learns quick and he's highly intelligent, like [another Highlands player] Given Msimango, who's studying economics.

"I think Mogaila is a player who can emulate Thembinkosi Lorch and Percy Tau, because of his speed," Da Gama said.

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