Batandwa Ntsebeza is a football man through and through and is determined to show the world what he can offer. In his own words,
“Football is where I should be and its where I belong.” After initially studying to become a chef after completing matric, the 27-year-old Umtata native currenty residing in Cape Town, decided to hang up his chef’s hat and apron to pursue his passion of becoming a soccer coach.
He currently coaches at former Santos striker Jean Marc Ithier’s academy (JMI) based in Pinelands, Cape Town.
How did you get into coaching?
After reflecting on Bafana Bafana’s performance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup I began to wonder why aren’t we competing with the best. It’s not as if we don’t have talent and the capacity to do so.
I then decided I want to be part of the solution.
At the beginning of 2011 I found out that Jean Marc Ithier was starting a soccer academy in Pinelands (right on my doorstep). I met with him and asked if I could get involved and now I’m here.
What is your role at the Jean Marc Ithier Academy?
I am coach of the JMI Under-17s which has been my role since 2012. I spent most of 2011 shadowing the coaches of the different teams, from Under-11 to Under-19, just to get some insight and a feel of things because I was very new to football and coaching.
JMI Soccer Academy also has strong links with the local schools so I get to work with the schools to try and improve the quality of the players.
Do you feel there’s enough support and access to information for upcoming coaches?
At the Academy I get lots of support but I feel SAFA and the Department of Sports could do a lot more to support and encourage young upcoming coaches like me. I try to attend as many coaching courses and workshops as possible to increase my knowledge of the game and to further my coaching qualifications.
The internet is also a good source of information and I use it a lot.
What have been the highlights of your coaching career so far?
The highlight of my career so far was reaching the Coca-Cola Under-17 Cup Final in 2013. We played against Duncan Crowie’s Ajax Cape Town Under-17s at Phillippi Stadium. In 2011 Crowie was my lecturer when I was doing my SAFA Introductory Level Coaching Course.
Two years later he taught me another lesson and this time it was a practical one! We lost 4-1 to Ajax and I feel on the day it came down to our lack of experience. We were up against Ajax Cape Town which is a household name and Duncan Crowie is a Cape Town football legend who has played and coached at the highest level. We were also up against the local supporters from Phillippi who were cheering for Ajax all the time.
It was a good experience for me and the players because it was our first time reaching a final and our first time ever playing in a stadium. What is also amazing is the fact that over 250 teams participated in the Cup including the like of Santos, Vasco, Old Mutual and Milano (who we beat in their own back yard in Grassy Park) but we stayed the full course and made it to the final.
We a young team trying to work our way to the top. We look forward to playing on more stages like the Coca-Cola Cup and go toe-to-toe with the so called giants again.
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
I enjoy watching good football firstly, so coaching allows me to orchestrate the good football I like to see and it helps to have players fit enough to translate my idea of good football onto the pitch.
When my team are at their best, I would rather watch them play over any team in the world.
What kind of football do you like your teams to play?
I like my team to play attractive attacking football and I like to see lots of goals. I encourage my players to express themselves and let their flair come out. If people come to see us play we need to make sure we give them a good show that will have them coming back for more.
In the 90’s and early 2000’s I remember flamboyant players like Doctor Khumalo, Shakes Kungwane, Scara Ngobese and Jabu Pule who used set the field alight with their flair and the fans enjoyed. For some reason we don’t see that anymore so we want to bring those days back and give our supporters something to enjoy.
Where do you see your career heading in five years’ time?
I see me and my team playing and entertaining fans on a bigger stage like the PSL. I want to be the youngest coach ever to win the PSL and I will do so in thrilling fashion.
I also want to see a lot of our JMI Academy boys playing in leagues all over the world. But there is still lots of work for us to do before we realise this dream so we will keep at it.
Which coaches do you look up to locally and internationally?
Locally the JMI Academy coaches come first in mind. They have had a direct influence in developing as a coach and I learn from them on almost a daily basis. Clive Barker is the only coach to have won something with Bafana Bafana so he is also up there on my list.
I also like the fact that his 1996 AFCON winning team was a multi-racial which shows that football belongs to everyone in this country. Internationally I look up to Mourinho, Guardiola, Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers because they are young coaches who brought new ideas into the game.
Which would be your dream club to coach?
Locally I definitely want to be involved in a el-kasico aslo known as the Soweto Derby so Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirate is on my wishlist. That derby is always sold out and its played in a 90 000 seater arena which is music to my ears.
Internationally I want to win trophies with teams in capital cities all over the world so teams like Ajax Amsterdam, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Arsenal, New York red Bulls etc. are all on my wishlist. Ultimately I want to win the FIFA World Cup with Bafana Bafana. But like a said earlier, theres lots of work to do before that dreams becomes a reality.
Do you have a coaching philosophy or motto?
My coaching philosophy is passion, teamwork, organization and determination. I believe that whatever team you represent, you must go out and play for them as if your life depends on it, be it club or country.
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