An exciting fixture will commence soon... Highlands Park will make their first PSL appearance after a 34-year absence. Supporters Club went to find out what this means to the people of Tembisa.
Speaking on the community's behalf, Sibonelo Ngidi sat down with SLSC to talk about what this day means to The Lions of the North.
Beaver Nazo: Hi Sbonelo, how are you doing? Highlands Park is based in Tembisa. Tell us, what does it mean to the people of Tembisa and the businesses in the area now that there's a PSL team in Tembisa?
Sibonelo Ngidi: It means a lot, Beaver. Let me first thank you and Soccer Laduma. Currently, we just completed the process of employing qualified people to be security guards, other people who will benefit is the people who sell foods and stuff, and the taxi owners and drivers. Township BNBs as well will benefit a lot, they will have to accommodate people who will be coming from outside of Tembisa. People from other townships outside Tembisa, like Alexandra, Dayveton and Midrand. It brings back the memories of Yizo Yizo (Tembisa Classic).
BN: How good is the support for the team from Tembisa and the surrounding areas?
SN: Imagine, Beaver, if you stay for a long time without getting food, some of us grew up in football. We live, eat, breathe and sleep football. From the early 2000s we didn't have a team in Tembisa, we had to travel to Atteridgeville, Orlando, FNB, Dobsonville and other stadiums to watch football. Now that we have a team here, everybody is happy. They've been calling for it. The support base is strong, go back to the records and see where most of branches for other PSL BIG teams are coming from. Numbers don't lie, they are from Tembisa.
BN: How prepared is the team for their maiden PSL season?
SN: We are more than ready, Beaver. What excites us more is the fact that we are playing a team we have unfinished business with. We played them twice in the NFD last season, no one managed to win between us. We played to a 2-2 draw in Makhulong and a 0-0 draw in Peter Mokaba. Now is the chance to show who is better than who now that we are in the PSL. The good thing is that we are both new in the PSL, just because they beat us by one point to get the promotion doesn't mean they are better than us. I was talking to players like Collins Mbesuma, who told me: "Sbonelo, I played for Kaizer Chiefs, Mpumalanga Black Aces, and never had the chance to be based in the township where we will be able to interact with the people." They are ready to bring smiles to the supporters. We have signed new players, we have just completed the signing of Franklin Cale, players like Lebogang Ditsile, Brendon Carroll, Charlton Mashumba, Khethukuthula Zwane, Junior Sibande and Shane Ledwaba. All the signed players are based on recommendations from the technical team. They just pointed where we need to strengthen and we did that.
BN: What can we expect from Highlands Park this season?
SN: You can expect the type of football township people love. We have good players like Khethukuthula Zwane, who does wonders with the ball, I'm sure you know him from TUKS, and the players we always had, like Sandile Khwela. You can expect very good football from the team. We are not here to add numbers, we will never be a yo-yo team, we are in the PSL to stay. Whether you are Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, or Sundowns, they must know that when they get to the Lion's den, it's not easy to get three points here. Once you get into the tunnel, you leave thrree points there. You will remember we faced Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup, we made their lives difficult. We are not going back to the NFD. Forward ever, backwards never!
BN: Lastly, any words for the Highlands Park faithful?
SN: I would like to urge everyone who loves football in Tembisa to buy tickets as early as they can. They can get them at any Computicket and Shoprite Checkers at R40, PSL standard price. We know there are people who are going to buy them in bulk and sell them, and we don't encourage that. Hence, we encourage people to beat that and go get tickets early. This game is a big one, and our players understand why this game is so big. Baroka players know that no one comes back smiling from Makhulong. Mr Mnisi always tells us that when you get to our tunnel, you leave the three points there!
BN: Sbonelo, thank you very much for chatting to us, baba.
SN: It's a pleasure Beaver, any time!