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Thulani Mkosi

Mkosi’s dreams clashed

In life sometimes one has to sacrifice to follow one’s dreams, and Thulani Mkosi did just that. The 22-year-old attacking midfielder was enjoying a starting place at Milano United’s team featuring in the SAFA Second Division League – a reserve side for the club’s professional franchise in the National First Division – when he had to give it up to pursue his academic career at UWC.

“I was a regular at Milano and stood a good chance of getting promotion to the professional team,” recalls the first-year B.Education student. “But when I started at the University at the beginning of the year it became difficult to attend classes and travel to Grassy Park for training, so I decided to put my football dream aside and hope that another chance would come up.”

He tried to find a club closer to campus but had to settle for the University team which is affiliated to the Northern Suburbs Local Football Association. However, the Varsity Football tournament may provide the East London-born Mkosi with a platform to showcase his talents.

“Varsity Football is very helpful in terms of exposing players to the high levels of the game,” Mkosi comments. “The intensity and competition in the Varsity Football tournament is very high and brings out the best in players, week in and week out. The more you play the better your chances are of being scouted. It’s a national tournament and you get to play in different provinces, which means you can be seen by professional clubs in different provinces. It’s a big opportunity for players to showcase their talent. The tournament is a very good initiative and very competitive. In fact, it is as competitive as the SAFA Second Division League and is also a good motivation for high school learners to embrace a university atmosphere.”

The UWC side currently finds itself in sixth position on the log with five points from five games, and Mkosi believes they could have performed better, particularly in their last home game against the University of Limpopo on Monday, 18 August 2014. After taking an early lead and creating numerous scoring opportunities, UWC ended up sharing the spoils with the visitors after allowing them to regain some ground.

“It was our game, but we got tired as the game went on. We play Varsity Football games on Mondays and USSA games on Wednesdays, it is demanding and fatigue caught up with us, which led to a lapse in our concentration in terms of attaining the goal.”

Mkosi admits that their fate is no longer in their hands, and will depend on the results of other teams to realise their goal of reaching the semi-finals. However, they need to play their part and win their remaining games against the reigning champions, Tukkies, at home on Monday, 25 August 2014, and the local derby away against UCT a week later.

The UWC team has not won a game at home as yet, having drawn two matches and lost one, and Mkosi says the players can feel the pressure to deliver in their own backyard.

“It has been difficult to play at home because of the pressure. The expectations of the fans become too much, especially when you know that you have not been picking up results at home. We as players need to step up to the plate and handle the pressure of playing at home, we are able to attain good results.”

Mkosi called on supporters not to turn their backs on the team because “having fans behind us is vital in pushing the players to performing up until the last minute.”