The Varsity Football 2019 captains range from first years to post graduates. Here’s a little bit more on each of the eight men who will be hoping to lift the coveted trophy come 26 September…
KEITUMETSE MABATHOANA (CUT)
Born: 17/11/94 in Bloemfontein
Not only will Mabathoana captain CUT this season but he will also be wearing the coveted jersey number 10. Those with a short memory will remember seeing and hearing about the diminutive midfielder last season, as a UJ player. That much is true, but 2019 actually marks a return for ‘Skieda’ to the CUT camp. He turned out for them in their 2016 and 2017 campaigns and should thus settle fairly comfortably in coach Mosai Rakometsi’s squad.
Off the field Mabathoana is doing his Masters in Education, so this is a big year for him – not least because it’s his final year of eligibility too.
PASEKA MATSHEKA (NWU MAFIKENG)
14/4/95 in Klerksdorp
If Wendelle Martin, all-action and all-hair, ‘stood out’ as NWU Mafikeng captain last season, then Matsheka will be an altogether different prospect. That said, the 24-year-old will be as determined to do what no previous NWU captain has been able to do by taking the Varsity Football trophy to Mafikeng.
Matsheka – a fourth year BCom Management student – will have to live up to the billing of his Quaresma’ nickname, by being at his enterprising best down the right wing while contributing goals too. Anything less, and the Noble Boys may start wondering if they’re ever doomed to forever be the nearly boys.
SPHESIHLE MBHELE (UJ)
17/6/2001 in Newcastle
It’s almost much all change on the field for UJ, despite them topping the table in 2018. Coach Mandla Zwane has overseen a squad overhaul and appointed Mbhele as captain – a first year who’s only just turned 18.
Mbhele has registered for a National Diploma in Transport Management and will be hoping he can lead the Orange Army down the road to success. First of all, though, he’ll need to get to grips with the level of Varsity Football … but if he’s anywhere near as good as his ‘Kaka’ moniker then that shouldn’t be a problem.
GAUTA MOKATI (UFS)
3/6/94 in Kroonstad
Mokati turned 25 in June and almost went through his entire period of eligibility without getting a taste of Varsity Football. That will undoubtedly be on his mind when he leads UFS back into the tournament for the first time since 2014 – when they actually reached the semi-finals.
The lanky centre-back is doing his Post Graduate Diploma in Labour Law so is undoubtedly smart enough to know that it could be a difficult first season back for Kovsies. At the same time, though, Mokati should remind his teammates that they have the benefit of unpredictability and will have nothing to fear.
LUNGANI NHLENGETHWA (UKZN)
22/8/1994 in Empangeni
Of all the 2019 captains, Lungani Nhlengethwa has arguably the most complicated job. UKZN’s squad is drawn from all five of the university’s campuses, and they’ll play home matches in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, so his is to create common goals.
At the very least for the Sport Science Honours student is to lead his team to a better performance than their inaugural season during which the won only one match. If he remains solid at centreback then he will go a long way to doing so.
SIMBONGILE NJOKWE (UP-TUKS)
4/1/94 in Impendle
You can’t find a player more synonymous with a Varsity Football team than Simbongile Njokwe is to UP-Tuks. The 25-year-old centreback has played in all but the inaugural season, and so boasts two winner’s medals (2014, 2017) to go with his ‘most-capped’ honour. However, ‘Zuluboy’ would like nothing more than to add a third title, as captain, because he stepped back from leadership in 2017.
Having reached the eligibility age, this will be Njokwe’s final chance to do so, before he focusses permanently on his career with the University of Pretoria’s professional team. That, and completing his Post Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship at the institution.
RORISANG RAPELENG (TUT)
1/1/1995 in Kuruman
With a nickname like The Rock it’s obvious what type of player Rorisang Rapelang is – the foundation of TUT’s defense. This year, he’ll have the added responsibility of leading the Red Machine with the ultimate aim of matching his predecessor, Elliot Seema, who raised the Varsity Football trophy in 2016 and last year.
Kuruman-born Rapelang has been at – and playing for – TUT since 2015, and is completing his fourth year of Officiating and Coaching Science.
EMMANUEL SEBAREME (UWC)
19/12/95 in UNHCR Camp, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Sebareme’s story, born in a refugee camp in Democratic Republic of the Congo to Rwandan parents, is well-known. However, another chapter will be added to his remarkable story when he leads UWC during this Varsity Football campaign – his second.
UDubs have underperformed since winning the 2015 title, so there will be pressure on the 23-year-old B.Com General student to lead them into the playoffs – at least – again. Good thing for them then, that in Sebareme they have a leader who’s dealt with pressure throughout his life.