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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.