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Save Zuma From Himself!

Kaizer Chiefs’ talented but wayward attacking midfielder, Dumisani Zuma, continues to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons! The former Bloemfontein Celtic player has just returned from a long absence where he spent over 10 months without kicking a ball in anger for the Naturena-based club. 

It was so encouraging to see the 26-year-old back in action when he came on as a second-half substitute in the team’s 1-0 away loss to Stellenbosch FC. His impact was felt as soon as he walked onto the field and his quality and class showed throughout the remainder of the game. Zuma brought life to Chiefs and showed no signs of lack of match fitness. This was the first time the interim coaches, Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard, were in charge of the team following Stuart Baxter’s departure. It looked like a new lease on life for the skillful winger and he went on to do the same thing against Cape Town City, where he even scored, and it looked like the Zuma we know was finally back!

Little did we know he was about to get suspended, for the second time in less than a year, by his club due to disciplinary issues. It is safe to say we may not see Zuma again in Chiefs colours for the remainder of the season. That’s gut-wrenching stuff when you consider the ground he’s covered since his return and what a great finish to the season he seemed destined for. One predicted great things to come from the player for the remainder of the season to set him up for a better 2022/23 campaign. One also expected to see him make up for all the lost time and proving just how much Amakhosi missed him, but we don’t always get our predictions right. When Chiefs announced on their official website, last week Monday, that Zuma had been suspended after he had been found to have “transgressed the club’s code of conduct”, pending an internal disciplinary process, it was a rather disappointing statement to go through as it was the last thing anyone would have expected to hear about a player who looked on his way to rediscovering his form. 

While the club’s statement did not go into details about the suspension, a couple of media houses reported that the player was not in a good state when he arrived for training on Sunday morning, a day after he had scored the consolation goal for the Soweto giants against the Citizens. Make of the ‘not in a good state’ statement whatever you want, but the fact that there is an internal disciplinary process that’s to be undertaken tells you everything you need to know. While some may look at this at face value, this could just be another young talent screaming for help. Zuma is not the first player to go through this problem and, if he doesn’t get his act together, he is likely to become another South African talent down the drain. He will become another talented player who failed to live up to expectations. Another player who failed to reach his full potential and wasted his career. Someone needs to save Zuma from himself! 

Surely Kaizer Chiefs are doing all they can to help this promising talent. Surely his agency is doing all they can, his family is doing all they can and so are his real friends, colleagues and even supporters. However, someone has to go above and beyond and help this talent. He really needs help, if the two suspensions and rumours about his social life and choices are anything to go by. Whether it is a former coach, a legend, a friend, family member or anyone close enough to the 26-year-old, can you please extend a helping hand to Zuma? We don’t want to see this boy becoming another statistic. We don’t want to see him going the same route as some of those who came before him. Zuma, on his day, is a super talented footballer who can turn the game on its head. Truth be told, with all due respect to the DStv Premiership, Zuma shouldn’t be playing in the country based on his talent and potential. He’s one of the players that should be raising the South African flag abroad and representing this country at national level, but how can that be possible when he’s not playing regularly at club level due to, among other things, his conduct? It would be sad to see the lad go down. It would be sad to see him failing to live up to expectations or maximizing on his talent. It would be a shame to see Zuma failing to become one of the best players this country has ever produced because of disciplinary issues. Everyone around him can only do so much to help, but the biggest help has to come from within. He has to put in the effort because we cannot afford to lose Zuma.

Here’s a simple message to you, young man. At 26, you’re not young anymore in football, although you still have several years in the game. Whatever is troubling you, please seek help. Seek professional help and find yourself. Make a conscious decision to revive your career and stick to it. Sacrifice what you need to and focus on your craft. At the end of the day, Chiefs can only do so much. Your coaches, agency, teammates, family and friends can only do so much. You have to decide whether you want to become a professional footballer or a socialite – it is one or the other. There are so many former players who were in your position and they’re now singing In My Time and have nothing to show for the years they spent in the professional ranks. You’ve seen, heard, read and watched their stories and, surely, you don’t want to find yourself in that position in the near future. If you continue being suspended, for whatever reasons, and spend less time on the field, then there is unfortunately only one way and that’s a downward spiral! If you continue to spend more time off the field and embroiled in disciplinary issues and hearings, then, unfortunately, you’re not going to fulfill your potential. You have the world at your feet and millions of South African kids would give anything to be in your position right now and they’d grab the opportunity with both hands. You’ve got almost everything going for you, all you need is to simply focus on your game. Don’t wait until it is too late to change. Make the most of what’s left in your career. Don’t ever settle or become complacent just because you play for Chiefs. Getting to Naturena is not the end, it should only be the beginning of great things to come for you. 

You’ve not won anything since joining Chiefs and that should be a driving force for you to make things happen for the team. Focus on your game and if there are any personal issues, please pay attention to them so that they don’t affect your career. If you continue to play less, then your value depreciates. You have it within you to turn things around. Anyone out there who cares to listen, please save Zuma from himself! 

Cheers,

VeeJay 

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