Mophaleng urges current footballers to be money wise

Also take up courses to educate yourselves, says ex-soccer star

Tebogo Mophaleng was one quick thinking and skillful players during his days a Jomo Cosmis
Tebogo Mophaleng was one quick thinking and skillful players during his days a Jomo Cosmis
Image: Arena Holdings Archive

Former Jomo Cosmos player Tebogo Mophaleng said his salary forced him to quit football in 2006.

Now serving as a human resources manager at South West Gauteng TVET College, Mophaleng says money squabbles at Ezenkosi are what discouraged him from making a living out of football. 

The 49-year-old said he enrolled for an HR and teaching qualifications after it became evident that he was unable to adequately provide for his family.  

“It had only been two months after I got married to my wife and we had a newborn child. I felt like it was going to be difficult to provide for my family. I had to think about what would happen should I get injured in the process. 

“I had been juggling football and a full-time job as a teacher then because football was not entirely professional when I was playing, it was more of a part-time thing, so I was able to teach labour relations module and sometimes be called in to come and play,” said Mophaleng. 

Unlike other football professionals who tend to put sport first, Mophaleng followed his parents’ advice to focus on his studies so he could have something to fall back on should football not work out for him. 

“While I was a teacher, Jomo Sono asked us to return to football on a full-time basis, but when it was said that we’d had to take salary cuts, that is when I knew that it was time for me to resort to my qualifications. 

“Even when I played for my varsity club, my mother told me I could not turn professional until I was a graduate and I was patient enough to complete. I studied and finished my qualifications around 1994 and in 2004, I went to RAU [now University of Johannesburg],” said Mophaleng. 

"I was still very young enough to play but there were just too many issues at the club, I felt like I didn’t want to find myself in an uncomfortable situation. That is when I decided to leave football forever and never returned.” 

Born and raised in Moletsane, Soweto, Mophaleng began his career at an amateur club called Moletsane Eagles.

Former Jomo Cosmos player Tebogo "Jury Bantwana" Mophaleng
Former Jomo Cosmos player Tebogo "Jury Bantwana" Mophaleng
Image: Supplied

“I must have been around nine years of age when I developed passion for the game, playing with some of my friends. I would also play alongside the likes of the late George Lekgetho as well as Thabo Mooki [when still growing up]. 

As his football began to show some promise, he was nicknamed “Jury Bantwana”, after former Orlando Pirates star, by his peers.

“I am not so sure why the nickname was given to me, but I think it was because I played like him [Bantawana]. I  also played the same right back position as him.

“I am grateful to have been part of the Cosmos team because Bra J [Sono] was like a father to us. He groomed and built us to become better footballers.”

Mophaleng added had the players of his time earned as much money as the current players he would  have continued to play longer as a professional footballer.

“I must say I am so jealous that they manage to make so much money out of football. Had this been the case for me, I would have probably remained in football. I have always loved it. 

“Before trying out football, I first joined a karate team around my neighbourhood because I thought I could do it but I swiftly had a change of heart after we went on a tournament and I was beaten. I promised myself to never go back but in football I found my real passion for sport and still wish I had a lot to offer. 

“Right now, I am a coach at the school and enjoy it so much because the way these boys are so good that they take me back to my days. Because of how my career went, I tell them to also invest their time studying because in life not all is guaranteed,” said Mophaleng, who also played for Witbank Aces in Mpumalanga. 

He also wishes for the players today to also arm themselves with money education through finance short courses or mentorship so that they can sustain their livelihoods beyond retirement from the game. 

“I just hope they have more knowledge about money, investments and saving. Also, they should consider going to school because school can help you to  make better decisions in life. 

“I always tell the boys I currently coach that as much as they are passionate about football, they should make sure that the first thing they are there [at the college] for are their books; soccer can follow from there. At least when you have papers [qualifications], you can get somewhere.


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