The past week of Varsity Football action was a great one all round for the winners, but definitely not for the teams that ended up on the wrong side of results. One team that would have been beaming with excitement following their opening two results of the tournament, is Wits University. For the first time since they have been involved in the tournament, Wits have managed back-to-back victories at the start of the tournament and finally break the duck of getting a first win against UWC.
Wits left it late in their fixture last week, beating UWC 1-0 in stoppage time, to seal all three points and conclude round two in second position, with just a goal difference separating them with log leaders NWU on 6 points a piece. It seems the Wits football side is really serious about matching its football results with the academic excellence the institution provides.
The new recruits in the Wits side seem to have brought something new to the team, who seem to be fighting a lot harder right until the end. Varsity Football managed to have a sit down with the Wits manager Sanele Nene, who not only does the behind the scenes preparations for the team, but also motivates on the bench and still handles a profession as an auditor at Mazars and is just a general advocate for education and football. Nene himself is a Wits Alumnus, knowing very well the challenges and benefits one receives post studies at Wits.
Nene was posed with question of if recruiting players that have already been signed to professional clubs really helps the progression of South African football, as the Varsity Football tournament not only displays entertaining football but is also a way to pave a way for future educated stars in the South African football fraternity.
“The recruitment of guys in professional set-ups ensures that we are able to provide our future PSL players with the right set of educational and financial management skills, that can eradicate the disease, which is the disease of our players retiring without a single cent to their name and we also ensure that our players have an option post their playing days.”
Football, in the end, is not just about what takes place on the pitch, Nene illustrates.
“It also increases the quality of the brand of Varsity Football as this is a breeding ground for scouts, professional teams and having better quality of players increases both the quality of the viewer experience on SuperSport and the competitiveness of the tournament. Plus, you also don’t want to close doors on existing students who have signed for professional teams in terms of them being able to represent their institution, so ultimately the best players at the university should represent the institution,” Nene adds.
Wits football aren’t just gunning for the finished product but there is still much opportunity for those on campus without professional experience.
“Scouting at internal leagues is still also very important as you don’t want to lose those exceptional gems, so you need to cast your net wide as well and accommodate all students, a lot of our players including our captain Tshire Motsogi are products of our internal league scouting, so you have to find a balance between the two.”
Sanele Nene concluded the interview by naming the new recruits that bolster up the Witsies set up this season, who have indeed changed things around drastically.
“As a team, we have brought in the likes of Lerotholi Manala from Brondby in Denmark, Kal Laing and Waylan Rooi from the Kaizer Chiefs MDC team, and Markus Lecki who’s played for Bidvest Wits in the PSL and Stellenbosch FC in the NFD.
“Those being our only new recruits having gained professional experience from being signed to professional set-ups. Other recruits are Sandile Mbatha and Clinton Mphahlele who come with Varsity Football experience having represented NWU Mafikeng and Tuks respectively.”
Make sure to catch this high flying Wits team, when they do battle with ‘noisy neighbours’ UJ all the way in Soweto at 6.15pm on Thursday evening, with more action also coming your way on SuperSport as the tournament goes into the third round of fixtures.
Check out the full interview:
By S’fiso Nyawo