Thursday, 27 October 2011

Player Profile: Loyiso (a.k.a. "Khune" / "Louis")

Name: Loyiso
D.O.B: 25/03/1990
Position: Goal Keeper
Personal Description: I come from George in the Western Cape. I have 2 sisters and a brother, but my sister and my brother have passed away. My mother passed in 2007 to TB and I don't know my father. I love to sing and used to sing in a choir.
Favourite Player: Brian Baloleli
When did you join the academy: 2010
What do you want to do in the future: To continue to play soccer, but a job is most important so I can support my sister.
What have you learnt in the Academy so far:
  • Be responsible
  • You have to take ownership of your life
  • How to be dependant

Loyiso is our number one goalkeeper and has been since he joined the academy back in 2010. He joined after impressing at a trial run by AIS in Mossel Bay prison in late 2009. He has been a goalkeeper his whole life, and you can see that he has the raw talent to become really top class. Last year he didn't really have any competition for his place from a second keeper, but this year we have had Luyanda (a.k.a "Station") as a second choice, who has been challenging for the first spot and keeping Loyiso on his toes. As a keeper his definite strength is in his shot-stopping. Fire a shot at Loyiso and he'll probably save it, and that's down to the fact that he's always committed to the save and he's also very athletic and quick to move across the poles, as well as being quick to get up to his feet after he's made a save. He's got good hands and you can generally rely on him not to fumble the ball and to push the ball away from the goal when he makes a stop. Every now and then he'll pull off a world-class save that makes you just stand back and say 'wow'. One that comes to mind was against Hawequa prison a month or so ago, where he saved a pen in a set of rugby poles! The striker smacked the ball high into the middle of the goal, and Loius, who was already diving to his left, somehow managed to twist his body and stick his arm up to push the ball over. Unfortunately the pen was retaken as some of our players had run into the box, and the following pen went in, but nevertheless it was a fine save. Loyiso stills needs work in his distribution and his positioning in the box, but he knows that and we've seen some vast improvements in his all round game this year.
Loyiso in action doing one of his trademark tip overs.

Speaking to Loyiso, he says that he relishes the competition provided by Luyanda and would rather have someone challenging him for his place than not, as it sharpens him and makes him a better player for it. In view of this, then, I think he has seen 2011 as a more productive year in terms of his football than in 2010 when there was no consistent second goal keeper to compete for the top spot. Louis has been great with Station this year and has basically acted as his mentor and coach, as myself and Bully don't really have specialist knowledge in keeper coaching. When Mr Jonas (the guard who helps us with the programme) is available he will run the keeper coaching in training, but when Jonas is not around then Louis will often assist with coaching Station. As I said, Loyiso is glad for the competition, and because of this, when Station has been picked as the first choice for a few run of games, rather than getting disheartened it has made him even more motivated to improve and get his spot back. Its been great to see that he's also had a great attitude when being dropped to the bench, helping Station warm up and encouraging him from the touchline.
Louis in the room by Zola's bed.
Louis has had an interesting journey through the academy so far. Apparently one of the major issues last year was Loyiso's attitude in terms of his confidence in goal. If he let in a goal then his head would go down very quickly and he'd get easily frustrated, and it was a battle for Coach Bully to motivate him and get his mind right. This year started a bit up and down, but you look at him now and he's come such a long way and he's admitted himself that he feels a lot mentally stronger now than at the start of the year. Speaking to him the other day, he said that one of the most defining moments of his time in the academy was the game against Ajax Cape Town (who are a sister club of Ajax Amsterdam) last year. At the time Ajax were at the top of the PSL (premier league in SA) so were technically the best team in South Africa. Hope Academy played out of their skins, with the score ending up 1-0 to Ajax and Loyiso, who apparently had a blinder, won man of the match. According to Louis, Ajax first choice keeper Hans Vonk (who played for the SA national team between '97 and '05) stood behind his poles for some of the game and watched Loyiso, encouraging and coaching him as the game went on. After the game he came up to Louis and was full of praise, and gave him his goalkeeper gloves as a parting gift. Not bad for a boost of confidence, and I'm sure he's used that as motivation for this year and will do going forward.
Loyiso with Ajax keepers Hans Vonk (left) and Andre Petim (right) after the game.
In terms of his character, I'd say Louis is definitely a competitive guy, which has been good for him in the sense that he is always motivated to improve his game, but has caused problems in the past with being able to take losing. Like I said, though, he's come a long way since his first days in the academy, to the extent that he doesn't even mind if I beat him at pool now...well sort of. Louis is also a very honest and open guy, who is always willing to talk. In fact he definitely has a bit of a gift with language and speaking, as he is able to speak fluent English, Xhosa and Afrikaans, and is usually the guy who will get up and speak about the academy when we have visitors come in. At times he has said some really inspiring things even when just speaking off the cuff. For example, when ASD (a Cape Town academy) came in recently he spoke about his time in the academy and how its always possible to make a positive out of a negative situation. Also when our former captain Zola was released from prison, at his farewell Loyiso said the following to him: 
"I have never had a male role model in my life. Zola has been the best role model I have ever had and has shown me how to be a man. I would go to him as a shoulder to cry on and share my struggles with him." 
It'd be great to see him use his oratory skills in some sort of relevant career in the future when he is released from Drakenstein.
Loyiso speaking at Zola's farewell braai.
Aside from football, Loyiso is a solid Christian guy and in terms of his future he is studying at NCV level I think, so he is currently going through his final exams until the end of November. Hopefully after that he can get on some sort of correspondence course so that he can fulfil his potential in terms of education. So, yeah, all in all Loyiso is a guy with bags of talent who has learnt a lot in his time in the academy in how to use that talent in the right way. According to Bully he's come far since his first days in the academy, so I hope he can keeping striving forward when he gets out.
Great photo, action shot!
Louis and Jafta at family day last year.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Player Profile: Siphelele (a.k.a "Spesh")

Name: Siphelele
D.O.B: 04/11/1991
Position: Centre Mid
Personal Description: I'm originally from Matatila in the Eastern Cape and lived with my mother, 4 brothers and 3 sisters. I left school at standard 8 as my mother needed money. I enjoy making furniture.
Favourite Player: Lionel Messi
When did you join the academy: 2011
What do you want to do in the future: To finish school, get a job and continue playing soccer.
What have you learnt in the Academy so far:
  • Respect
  • Working together as a team
  • Working as a family and standing together

Siphelele is one of the newer members in the academy, coming from the group of four guys that joined this year from Hawequa juvenile prison after they impressed in the trials back in March. They didn't get transferred to the academy until about May time, which means they've been with us for around 5 months. Of these four Hawequa players one guy, Mbulelo, has already been released. Mbulelo and Siphelele look very similar, and it took a couple of months for us to get the names in the right order, so after that me and Bully dubbed them the 'Hawequa twins'. They both play a similar game, in fact, as they are both short but stocky guys, so they battle it out in the midfield and use their strength and bursts of speed to win the ball well in the middle. Mbo is the more attacking midfielder, while Spesh is more of a defensive midfielder, and with the vast amount of defensive midfielders we have in the team, this meant that Spesh hasn't had as much game time this year as he might have liked.
The 'Hawequa Twins'
This is not a reflection of his quality as a player though, as he is fairly solid in terms of basic technique, he just needs to have a solid 6 months of training to get up to speed with the guys who have been in the academy longer and thus have a more developed footballing intelligence. Spesh has managed to come on as a sub towards the end of most games though, and has done a good job when he's been called upon. In the few months that we have had him, though, we have seen some major improvements in terms of his awareness and the quickness of his play, which can be said for most of the new guys in the team, as well as the existing players. We've seen some major improvements in the quality of our football this year, especially in the past few months as they guys are starting to understand the type of football we've been drilling in since the start of the year, and we've really seen some guys step up and surprise us. One of the awards at the end of the year will go to 'Most Improved Player', so I'm certain this will be a hotly contested battle.
Spesh (right) with Zola on his farewell.
In terms of his character Spesh seems to be doing fine. He doesn't seem to have had any trouble settling into the room, and we've had no problems at all in terms of discipline. Spesh likes to laugh (often being the only one who laughs at Coach Bully's jokes ;) ) and he's definitely an animated guy, especially when he's watching his 'soapies' on the box. South African soapies are like the 'Eastender''s and 'Corination Street''s of television over here, but there seems to be flippin' loads of them, on all channels. To be honest I think they're pretty rubbish, and I'm only gonna watch them to laugh at the bad acting (not that Eastenders is much better though), but some of these guys (including Spesh) get proper engrossed in the cray story lines. I remember walking into the cell one day and this one called 'Rythmn City' was on I think, and I had no idea what was going on, and all of a sudden Spesh erupted with a bunch of 'yo!'s and 'aybo!''s because obviously something intense had happened on the show. I still didn't have a clue but it was funny to see Spesh get so worked up about it. With the TV, the guys get a certain amount of hours of viewing time a day and because of the academy, the guards try and fix the viewing times so that the times coincide with live football, as we want them to be watching as much football as possible. For the rest of the time, though, I guess they have to put up with these rubbish soapies.
Another one from Z's braai. This time its Spesh and Duna
The good thing about Spesh, for me, is that he hasn't let the fact that he's had less game time get him down. He's kept a positive attitude in training, and has even gone beyond what has been asked of him by taking on the role of the physio during the games at the weekend. Granted, at the moment this just constitutes running on the pitch with a bottle of water, but you can guarantee that when you see someone go down Spesh will already be sprinting on with the water in hand. This wasn't asked of him, so its great that he's taken the initiative to make himself useful when he's sitting on the bench. In terms of his schooling, I'm not entirely sure where he's at, but I know that I've been assigned to help him with some English comprehension and written exams, so we'll see how he does in that. All in all though, Spesh has settled into the team nicely, and I hope he can keep striving forward towards success in his football, faith and future.