SuperSport attacker Zakhele Lepasa opens up on sickening social media abuse

01 March 2023 - 16:47
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Grant Margeman (left), Zakhele Lepasa (centre) and Thamsanqa Gabuza during SuperSport United's trainign session at Megawatt Park in Johannesburg on March 1 2023.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Grant Margeman (left), Zakhele Lepasa (centre) and Thamsanqa Gabuza during SuperSport United's trainign session at Megawatt Park in Johannesburg on March 1 2023.

SuperSport United striker Zakhele Lepasa has developed such a thick skin that social media trolls don’t faze him any more.

Lepasa, who is on loan at United from Orlando Pirates, is a constant victim of sickening abuse about his performances on social media platforms but says he has learnt not to allow negative comments get to him for the sake of preserving his mental health.

Speaking as United prepared to take on Golden Arrows in their DStv Premiership clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday, Lepasa said sportsmen and women have to learn to deal with criticism.

“We invite people into our lives by being on social media and this is what we have to deal with,” he said.

“When we talk about life, sometimes you see and hear people saying, 'We didn’t know things are like this because you guys are actually human beings'.

“It is something you need to deal with as a player or as a sportsperson. This is going to happen whether you like it or not.”

Lepasa said he is no longer active on social media as he focuses on reviving his career at United where he has made three appearances since he arrived in the January transfer window.

“I did care about social media a lot but eventually I had to get over it. I had to understand that I am the most important one to myself.

“I needed to be my own biggest critic, to be my own cheerleader and at this point I am not that active on social media.

“It doesn’t mean that I don’t like social media or if it is a space I don’t want to be in. It is a space that creates a lot of opportunities outside football if you want to pursue other things.

“When I see a negative comment, it doesn’t really affect me any more.”

Lepasa said he was enthusiastic about the loan to SuperSport where he hopes to earn more game time.

“It is important to be here; I asked for a loan before. I have never had a problem if I was playing.

“I needed to be in a space where I put myself out of my comfort zone and try a different environment to help my career.”

Asked what went wrong at Pirates, the striker said: “I don’t know where to start because it is hard to explain.

“It is one of those things you have to accept as a person and I don’t regret anything.”

SuperSport are in second place in the league on 36 points from 21 games, 19 behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns. Arrows (25 points) are in 12th place.

“I don’t regret going there or being here at SuperSport. Whatever happens from here I am the only one who is in control and I am happy about it. I have been very happy for the past few months, nothing makes more sense to me than playing football.

“Nothing makes sense to me knowing that I will be given a chance and the only thing that I look forward to everyday when I wake up is to come and play football.”