Following a short stint at the UJ, Keitumetse Mabathoana has returned to CUT to finish what he started with them in Varsity Football.
Despite it being an atmosphere he is all too familiar with, Mabathoana has been impressed by how welcoming his team has been to him – even choosing him as captain for this campaign.
“The team welcomed me warmly after my spell at UJ. They even knew that I was going to add value to the team, ” the pint-sized attacker tells varsitysportssa.com
Even though he shared great memories at UJ, helping them to the top of the round robin table in 2018 before a surprise semi-final loss to Wits, prefers the lively setup at CUT.
In the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Mabathoana established himself as a fan favourite, with his tsamayas and stepovers keeping them on his side. Despite that, and the fact he wears the iconic number 10 jersey, ‘Skieda’ values humility and keeping his football simple. Even his nickname is derived directly from his full name.
“Keitumetse was too long, so it was [initially] shortened to Skeitu, with Skieda being the ‘spiced-up’ version,” Mabathoana reveals.
With him closing in on the eligibility cut-off [his 25th birthday is on 27 November], Mabathoana is bowing out of the Varsity Football. Unsurprisingly, he wants to do so with a bang…
“For me, it’s my last year and I have to make it memorable. I have lost in three semi-finals and it would be special for me to lift it as a captain and for my institution to lift it for the first time,” Mabathoana declares.
At the same time, while some may find it challenging to balance academics and the responsibility of captaincy, Mabathoana is taking it in his stride.
“I have been playing football and studying for years now. I just have to balance the two [academics and football] by keeping it simple,” the Masters in Education student says, noting his relief at not having to attend classes due to his research-only programme.
Despite being an Orlando Pirates fan, Mabathoana notes two Chiefs players, past and present, as major influences.
“I see myself in Lebogang Manyama as he is the best among equals [and] Thabo ‘Tsiki Tsiki’ Mooki used to be my favourite,” Mabathoana concludes.
Next up for Mabathoana and his team, who currently sit joint-second on the table, is a trip to UWC. They will aim to secure a second consecutive away victory after they left it late against the UKZN in Round 2.
Tickets for the game, which kicks off at 18:30, are available for just R10 if you use the Varsity Sports App, downloadable from the Apple App Store on iOS devices or from the Google Play store for Android users.
By Sam Styrax