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Credit Where It Is Due!

Imagine waking up to go to work not knowing whether you will get paid at the end of the month, yet you’re expected to maintain your professional conduct and deliver. You have to continuously and diligently meet the boss’ expectations even if yours aren’t met.   
Deliver you continue to do on and off the field, without an income, keeping others happy while you’re dying inside. That’s like sacrificing yourself for the benefit of others. Dimming your own light to keep others’ shining. It doesn’t get more selfless than that. Such has been the story of Bloemfontein Celtic’s technical team and players. To say this has been arguably their toughest season would be an understatement. The club has been hit by ongoing financial troubles that saw the possible sale of the team fall through. Despite all of the off-the-field and management challenges, the Siwelele brigade continue with the business of the day as if nothing is happening. 
Looking from outside in, there’s no sign of a club in turmoil, judging by their performances on the field of play. They’ve outdone a number of financially stable teams and their current log position speaks volumes.     
From the beginning of the season, Celtic has been making headlines for all the wrong or rather unflattering reasons, which have mostly even overshadowed their great performances and displays on the field of play. Coach Steve Komphela and his technical team kept the fire burning and the players focussed on the bigger picture, getting the results on the field of play even if you don’t get your financial rewards on time. The team’s supporters refused to be left behind and went as far as they could to try and resolve the mess that had a potential to see this club either collapse or being lost to the Free State province. When dysfunctionality seemed to be eating up this franchise like a virus, it was the head coaches and their technical team that had the unenviable job of maintaining the focus and professional conduct. How do you demand 100% effort from your charges when you know, for a fact, that they’re not happy with the club’s empty promises to fulfil their contractual obligations? 
How do you look at the players in their faces and reprimand them for poor performances when you know that the below average showing has everything to do with the unfulfilled contractual obligations? When you know the stress these players are subjected to at their homes because they are not able to pay their monthly debits and looking after their own families, where do you draw the strength to even have a go at them? How do you lead a group of people and demand respect, discipline and dedication to the badge that doesn’t seem to care about them? How do you go back to your boss and do a weekly debrief, pointing out the team’s weaknesses without addressing the club’s contribution to on the challenges you’re faced with? These are just some of the challenges faced by both Celtic coaches and the players. To their credit, they’ve not disappointed and, instead, they showed a great deal of character and never-say-die attitude. They remained professional through it all and hardly used the club’s finances as an excuse to underperform. 
It is very easy to lead in good times, but great leaders show up in trying times. When leading isn’t popular, that’s when great leaders thrive. It is like leading 4-0… the winning team doesn’t need much leadership because things are going their way, but the same can’t be said about the losing side. It takes a great deal of leadership to continue playing and trying to make something out of a game when you’ve conceded so many goals. You either throw in the towel and just play to finish the game or you dig deep, knowing that if they can score four so can you, and make the necessary adjustments to see your team bounce back. Between the two teams, more lessons will be drawn from the defeat than the victory because it is from tragedy that we learn more.
The untimely departure of Komphela was expected to mark the downward spiral of the club’s fortunes but, once again, true leadership has prevailed. Lehlohonolo Seema and John Maduka, together with the rest of the technical team and the players, continued to show that mental fortitude and they deserve all the credit for, once again, playing an integral role in ensuring that off-the-field chaos doesn’t affect what happens inside the pitch. Surely there must be something the club’s management is also doing right to ensure that the team remains afloat. Credit where it is due.  
Only 10 points adrift log leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns – at the time of going to press – with eight games to go, you’d be forgiven to think Celtic haven’t had any problems this season. They are still in the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals, where they will be squaring up against their former coach, Komphela, for the second time since his departure from the Siwelele camp. To add to the club’s positive achievements, coach Abram Nteo’s team were recently crowned MultiChoice Diski Challenge champions after beating Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 in their last game of the season. Another feather on the cap of the Free State-based club that continues to defy all the odds stacked against them. This goes to show that this team deserves much more than they’ve been through this season and one hopes that the financial stability will be back so that the good job done by everyone associated with the club doesn’t go down the drain.
No real football person would be happy to see the demise of this club. The difference their supporters make at the stadium, the awesome atmosphere they create, the love, passion and support they always show is a good lesson to everyone out there. It is for this reason that one can’t help but feel for those multitudes of vociferous Siwelele supporters whenever things are going pear-shaped for this special Green and White club.

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