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Tapelo Sixishe

Sixishe the hope of UWC

At the start of this year’s Varsity Football tournament many UWC players had put their hopes for success largely on the shoulders of midfielder, Tapelo Sixishe – and understandably so.

The 20-year-old second-year nursing student is UWC’s residential professional footballer, having signed a one-year deal with FC Cape Town in the National First Division two weeks ago. In addition, Sixishe was the top goal-scorer for the University when they won the University Sport South Africa (USSA) Western Cape competition last year, and also topped the goal-scoring chart for his previous club, Mbekweni United, who are featuring in the SAFA Second Division League, formerly Vodacom Promotional League.

“I know there is pressure on me to deliver in Varsity Football,” the soft-spoken Sixishe notes. “The team and the fans are expecting a lot from me, but that is normal and it is not affecting me.”

So far, Sixishe, who was born in the Eastern Cape town of Cofimvaba, has netted one Varsity Football goal - a penalty in the 2-2 draw against the University of Johannesburg in the opening match. He blames the lack of combination as the main problem for UWC’s misfortunes in the tournament, which have found them at the bottom of the log with only one point earned from three games.

“Many of us play for different clubs and we played together for the first time in our opening Varsity Football match. We never even had friendly games before that,” he said. That may be a thing of the past. The past few Varsity Football and USSA games have helped the team to work on their shortcomings. On Wednesday, 6 August, Sixishe found the net when UWC beat neighbours from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology 2-0 in a USSA game.

“I think we have found a winning combination, and if we could maintain that performance from the USSA game we have a chance to win all four remaining matches in the Varsity Football competition,” he says confidently.

As the only university student in the FC Cape Town set-up, Sixishe has found the going getting tough in terms of balancing his football and academic careers. In fact, he had to give up playing for Chippa United’s Vodacom side two years ago because the club’s programme clashed with his academic schedules.

“It is a struggle, because at FC Cape Town we train twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. And the course I’m doing is very demanding. However, the club is not only supportive but encourages me not to sacrifice my studies. They allow me to attend classes in the morning and come to the afternoon training session. I also train on my own in the mornings before going to class, just to keep pace with the required standard.”

Fittingly, in Women’s Month, Sixishe dedicated his blossoming career to his single mother who has supported him throughout. He encourages other footballers and sports people to continue studying.

“Education is as important as sport because you can get a lifetime injury that can end your sporting career, but no one can take education away from you.”

UWC’s next game is today in Sixishe’s home province against Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.