Mthatha star stepping up

Velelwandle has made the cut for the last 23 in the Ye Kona Challenge

Mthatha-born defensive midfielder Buyelekhaya Velelwandle (yellow) slides as he tries to secure the ball against an AmaTuks player during a friendly
Mthatha-born defensive midfielder Buyelekhaya Velelwandle (yellow) slides as he tries to secure the ball against an AmaTuks player during a friendly
Image: Supplied

Budding Mthatha footballer Buyelekhaya Velelwandlewants to prove he can play top-flight football during the Nedbank Ke Yona Challenge.

For Velelwandle making it into the last 23 of the Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search which will face Nedbank Cup winners Free State Stars could be the start of his journey to the top.

The Mighty Bucks defensive midfielder, 23, said quitting school, three years back, to focus on football was a tough decision he had to make in order to focus on changing the lives of his blind parents through football.

The football whiz who’s scored five goals for Bucks campaigning in the SAB League this past season, said he had a great time at the trials, even though he faced stiff competition from other PSL hopefuls.

“I didn’t have any trouble adjusting to the environment and gelling with the other players was easy for me. It’s just that I was tired because I never had time to rest, because on my way there I travelled with the bus and I only had a few hours to rest.

“But besides that I had a great time showing the coaches what I can do with the ball on the pitch and I’m just thrilled they took a chance with me,” he said.

Velelwandle said making the cut in the Ke Yona team was a validation to his peers from around the province they too can achieve their aspirations.

“I want every a player that has a passion for soccer to see that it’s possible to achieve this, because I dream about playing professionally each and every day.

“And I feel like I’m a step closer to realising that dream and right now because I’m busy preparing myself so that when the date for the Nedbank Challenge is announced I’m fit and prepared. Although it’s challenging because I’m training alone as the teams are still on holiday so I’m pushing myself.”

Velelwandle added: “It’s not easy preparing for something like, it’s a do-or-die situation for me. Because I will be working with new coaches and I don’t want them to struggle with me – they should just brush me up and not start from scratch with training me.

“Because I’m doing this for my family, because there’s nothing I would like more than changing the situation of my parents.

“I want them to have things they’ve always wanted in life like a big beautiful house in one of the suburbs in Mthatha.”

From August 3 to 9 the selected 23 players will assemble for camp at Nike High performance in Pretoria, where they will be coached by Mike “Sporo” Mangena, Khabo Zondo, and former Bafana Bafana mentor, Shakes Mashaba.

That’s where the final 16 players who’ll play in the Ke Yona Challenge will be chosen.

Other players from the province also picked are Xolela Bonxa, Sive Gqezengele, Camagu Kanana and Axolile Kapo.