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Nomvethe's foundation aims to bring back school tournaments

‘I was also discovered during school games’

Siyabonga Nomvete of Amazulu FC keeps the ball from Zitha Macheke of Chippa United during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 game between Chippa United and Amazulu at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Siyabonga Nomvete of Amazulu FC keeps the ball from Zitha Macheke of Chippa United during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 game between Chippa United and Amazulu at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Through his newly-launched initiative and football experience, former striker Siyabonga Nomvethe hopes to give back to his community by unearthing talent across his native province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Hailing from Durban, KwaMashu, “Bhele” as he is affectionately known in the football streets, says the Siyabonga Bhele Nomvete Foundation aims to achieve his goal of bringing back the schools’ tournaments, so children with potential in the rural areas can have the opportunity to realise their dreams of being footballers and netballers.

The former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates forward landed at Amakhosi after being discovered during the tournaments and have now partnered with provincial education department to ensure that aspirants can have a smoother way into the Premier Soccer League. 

“When the officials from the department approached me, they told me that they would love to do a tournament in my name. There will be teams from Ntuzuma, KwaMashu and Inanda since we just started, including the schools I went to. The schools’ tournament is not there any more so that is the journey I am about to take in my career.

“I was also discovered during school games to be the Siyabonga Nomvete that I am today. I don’t know what would have helped me had it not been for schools and soccer. That is where the foundation is built,” he said. “I want to make sure that it is a great success until I can see who the KZN champions will be.”

 Nomvethe said he continues to propose to the department to spread the tournament to the entire province. 

Siyabonga Nomvete of African Wanderers during the 1997/1998 PSL Castle Premiership and Cup Season.
Siyabonga Nomvete of African Wanderers during the 1997/1998 PSL Castle Premiership and Cup Season.
Image: Gavin Barker

“I want to see schools from all districts competing against each other before we can reveal our champions. As time goes on, it would be great to see it narrow down to 12 teams who will fight to have the Siyabonga Nomvete Schools’ Cup, from Newcastle to Port Shepstone. 

“I want to also penetrate the rural areas, schools that side don’t get to participate in this kind of thing. I want it to be as provincial as possible. Everyone will meet in eThekwini to see who are the KZN champions indeed,” he sounded excited.

“It had been tough for me since I left AmaZulu, and I enjoyed working as an assistant coach but I had to think a lot about the direction I wanted to take and all the learning I had during my time there and take them forward,” he said.

Having hung up his boots at the age of 43, Nomvete stayed at Usuthu for the three last years of his career and became an assistant coach at the club in 2020. His career began in primary school in KwaMashu, where he played for Claremont Blizzards and Sabatha FC, the amateur clubs that saw him make his way to Johannesburg for greener pastures, the said that made him terrified.

He joined Kaizer Chiefs in 1998.

“I remember having to go to Joburg, it was tough for me to make the decision to go. I was 19 years and I was afraid to leave my family and friends behind, the life that I knew. But they told me of another player who would help me acclimatise,” said the now 45-year-old Nomvethe. 

“But when I started playing, I saw the possibilities of one day playing overseas. I trusted my speed. I started playing but as a substitute mostly, but each time I started playing, I would change the dynamic of the game. At that time I was still doing my matric and I was determined as ever.

“I remember there was a day I was torn between going to school to write my exam or going to play at a cup final. I said about it and went straight to camp, and come match day, I scored  goal. I said to myself that football was my destination. So I focused on how I can elevate and finally become an international player,” he recalled. 

South Africa's Siyabonga Nomvete scores second goal during the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon football match between South Africa and Benin at Sfax, Tunisia on 27 January 2004
South Africa's Siyabonga Nomvete scores second goal during the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon football match between South Africa and Benin at Sfax, Tunisia on 27 January 2004
Image: Gavin Barker

Nomvete eventually travelled to Europe to join an Italian club, Udinese Calcio for two years before he was loaned to Salernitana Calcio for another year. He made his first Bafana Bafana appearance against Slovenia in the 2002 Fifa World Cup, where he made sure his presence was felt after he scored a winning goal in a 1–0 victory. 

“Kaizer Chiefs took me to a level where I was able to play in Europe and for Bafana Bafana as well. It added some value to my performance. The experience in Europe was great, most of the time, the problem was the food. I would miss having amasi and pap. But I have to say I had the time of my life. It became clear to me when I joined the club that my dream was not unrealistic any more,” he said.

 Nomvethe’s son, Lifa, 21, joined AmaZulu and this makes him elated to see his son taking his love for football seriously. 

“I told him that he needs to work hard. I also told him about the pressure he might get because of whose son he is and what his surname is. I see the talent and determination. But he has a long way to go. People will ask what is happening should he not perform on the field,” he laughed.

Nomvete said he had never religiously supported any team in his life even during his upbringing. 

“As much as I loved watching soccer, I didn’t have a team I favoured. I was always for the winning team. All I would do is just watch and throw comments here and there, but I never religiously supported any club.”


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