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Tavern Of Legends: “Go Back To School!”

In every football loving country, the ‘beautiful game’ always allows for legends to be born. Becoming a legend happens not because of one game, one goal or one single moment, but is rather a status afforded to players who have consistently produced the goods. They are players who have not on the odd occasion been heroes, but who have, due to their sustained excellence, been anointed by the public as legends of the game. What many people fail to recognise is that for every legend that is made, there are legendary stories to tell about the path they travelled to reach the pinnacle of success. In Mike Mangena’s case, one such story is his transition from player to coach, something which proved not to be child’s play. In this feature, ‘Sporo’ delves more into the subject matter…
 
Why education is vital
 
I feel it’s important to talk about the importance of education for footballers, and also equipping yourself with the necessary qualifications if you want to be a coach one day. It’s really been vital for me to attend these coaching courses as they are an eye-opener. You must never take going to these coaching courses for granted and say, “I played football at the highest level and therefore I’m qualified to be a coach.” For me, when I did the CAF B Licence, I had realised that it was really, really important to go and acquire the necessary skills because it’s also about man-management. As an ex-player, I took a decision in 2010 to go back to university. I’m saying this for the very first time… I’ve never spoken about it.
 
I registered with UNISA and I will soon be doing the last semester for my degree. I’m doing Psychology and my aim is to do Sport Psychology after that. If all goes well, I’m going to register for a post-graduate course in Sport Psychology and then take it from there.
 
From player to coach
 
You’ll remember I coached Moroka Swallows immediately after I stopped playing. It was in 1995 when I told myself that one has to go and equip oneself with the much-needed knowledge. An opportunity presented itself when the CAF B Licence courses were held here, so I went for the course and got my certificate. I also got the CAF A Licence. The likes of Clive Barker, Jomo Sono, Shakes Mashaba, Gordon Igesund, Pitso Mosimane, Mlungisi Ngubane... you name them... were all there, and we were all honoured that CAF was helping us with this. CAF said, “These are people who have been in football for years. Can we give them an opportunity to attend this course?” I felt honoured that I was given that opportunity to go and be part of the group of people that I was surrounded by. They are legends of the game and everyone knows about their contribution to local football. 
 
Choosing Sport Psychology 
 
Having played football, I’ve always wanted to know why our soccer players behave in certain ways. What informs that behaviour? Now I’ve got the answers, having done Psychology. I wanted to understand how soccer players think. I’m just enjoying Psychology and it’s amazing the effect it has on a human being, you know. At least now I’ll be able to say to these youngsters, “Go back to school!” That’s the message that we must preach to these young boys... that they have so much time on their hands and that soccer is a short career. I’m finishing off now and haven’t qualified yet. I want to state that clearly so that people don’t come and say I said I have a degree. The semester that I’ve registered for is my last one and if I pass all the modules that I’ve registered for, then I’ll go and graduate. 
 
Do good players make good coaches?
 
It’s not a foregone conclusion that being a good player will make you a good coach. It’s something that you have to work on because coaching is totally different to playing. But it is an advantage if you come from a background where you played at that level because then you’ve gone through so many things. It sets you in good stead, but you have to go and learn because coaching is about many different things. It’s about dealing with the mentality of a player. It’s about dealing with 25 players at a time, man-managing them, understanding different personalities and ensuring that each and every one is motivated to go and perform at the end of the day. Having been there and played under different coaches, I’ve realised that education is key. Nelson Mandela said education is the key to change the world and a lot of our players out there would do well to heed this advice.
 
The year of legends
 
A new year always ushers in an opportunity to start afresh and set yourself goals. Mike Mangena scored goals like they were going out of fashion during his heyday, but as soon as his playing career was over, he had to set himself new goals. One of these was to continue his involvement in the game that put him on a pedestal, albeit in a coaching capacity, so as to share his knowledge and experiences with generations to come. It didn’t end there, tough, as ‘Sporo’ is now close to earning a qualification in Psychology, which will obviously be of great help in the line of duty. By the end of the year, he will be well on his way to graduating, enabling him to count himself among an elite list of footballers who went on to receive tertiary education after retirement. It’s vital in football to have something to fall back on, as one’s career can come to an end at any time. True to his legend, Mike Mangena has clearly set himself well-defined goals for the year. Have you? This is the year of legends!  
 
We’re wishing everyone a legendary new year filled with legendary company. Since it was first made in 1769, Gordon’s Gin has been enjoyed by many legends, from Marilyn Monroe to the Queen of England, Winston Churchill to Ernest Hemmingway. Now it’s your turn to enjoy the legend! 
 
Andrew Mphore was the winner of the Gordon’s See Yourself as the Next Legend competition and will be starting his new year with R50 000 and a 7-day legendary getaway for himself and 3 friends, courtesy of Gordon’s Gin. They’ll be jetting off to Cape Town, where they will be chauffeured to first-class dinners, skydiving adventures, luxury spa days, nights on the town, VIP experiences and much more!
 

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