How Nodada Almost Ended Up In The USA
In this iDiski Times ‘Web Exclusive’ Cape Town City midfielder Thabo Nodada talks about his ‘coaching career’, playing Res Football at UJ, and how he almost ended up in the USA instead of playing in the PSL.
In the latest edition of iDiski Times (Edition 18) Thabo Nodada features in an open and frank interview with Rob Delport. The two chatted so much, we couldn’t fit it all in the newspaper, so here is a web exclusive on how Nodada was almost lost to professional football.
Rob Delport: So we all know you were at KES (King Edward), and you emailed all the clubs to find an academy while you were there, and Andreas Christodoulou at Mpumalanga Black Aces responded. You go join them, but after you finish school, you stop at Aces.I heard that after school you were actually meant to go college in the USA? So how do you end up going back to Aces, where of course it all started for you as a professional.
Thabo Nodada: Rob, at that point, I’ve done my SAT’s. I’ve scored an incredible score. My results are with Gannon, there were a few universities, but one of the universities was Gannon, which was a university that my first team coach at the time at KES had studied there.
And he had taken two scholars before me, who had played for him in the first team at KES, he was an educator, Gareth Kolkenbeck-Ruh, who later went to St David’s Marist, where he became the deputy principal of the of the primary school, that is where I was working in first year, I was working as a student coach, studying at UJ.
That’s how I made some extra bucks and he had given me the job, but he was taking me overseas, he had gotten me a 75 to 90% scholarship. And basically what we were waiting for was for them to open from their break, and I move overseas, then here comes Andreas again, and it’s funny actually, because this is how it all unfolds. Rob, I think you do know Andreas’ son?
Rob Delport: Costi? Yes, he’s a great young goalkeeper. (Costi Christodoulou is a junior international, currently on the books of Stellenbosch)
TN: Yes, So I am at St Davids and Costi is playing for the first team soccer. So one weekend Costi and them are playing, his dad Andreas decides to come. When he comes, he meets Kolkenbeck-Ruh. They obviously had a relationship from when I was still a player at KES and at Aces.
They used to communicate, ‘listen we need him this weekend, where we playing,’ they were in constant communication. So it’s just an old chat, being reenacted.
‘Where’s Thabo? I haven’t seen him in a while.’ ‘Oh, no Costi told me he’s coaching.’ ‘He’s here. Yes, I hired him. He’s working for me. But he’s been talking about getting back to football.’
Then Kolkenbeck-Ruh goes, ‘yes, I’ve got something lined up for him in the States.’
Andreas: ‘Maybe I can get him to play? Let him go train with them, the under-19s,’ and that’s how it started again.
Andreas calls me. I am at home. At this point I’m playing at UJ res league on weekends. I train once a week, I get there end of the week, I bang a brace. I am a superstar, I do not mark. I just wait for the ball to get to me, I go past everyone, find my past everyone.
And that was football for me, otherwise not paying attention, the most football I’m doing while I’m learning is through the coaching I’m doing with Kolkenbeck-Ruh. I wasn’t paid. I was coaching.
I coached the under 15a side and I had to coach them at one prestigious tournament at St David’s Marist, it’s their tournament, they hosted and I remember the one game the first team coach is watching, and my boys, I don’t know whether they were under the storm but they are feeling like pressure, and for me normally just my character, you’ve trained five days, it’s the sixth day to perform, it’s too late to feel the pressure.
You either do it or you fail, or you don’t do it and you wasted the five days you’ve been training. The first team coach didn’t feel like that, he just stood up he screamed ‘hey, you have to wake up!’ Now I’m standing there as a coach and my players looking at me weird because ‘hey, our coach doesn’t speak to us like this, why is this guy speaking like this?’ (laughs) Some of my coaching memories, some of my coaching memories.
But I was supposed to be going, but I ended up going back to the under-19s, when I get there, I meet Johnny Ferreira. I’ve never worked under him. But because I’ve been at Aces from 16 years, I’m returning now at 18, there’s sort of an understanding with everyone at the time, they all want me to be back, I want to be back.
So when I get to Johnny I remember the first game, I trained a week, the first game he puts me on the bench. They playing against SuperSport, they losing 4-0 I come on, with another player Zanele, he was a friend of mine, we change the game. The next game they play Wits away at Sturrock Park. I am playing and we win. The very next weekend we play SuperSport again, we win 3-1.
I think it was that Monday DStv goes, ‘New reserve league tournament to be started in South Africa!’
RD And that’s it?
TN That’s it! That was it. Because when that started, they asked Johnny for players, and you asking Johnny Ferreira, who’s going to go speak to people who already have Thabo Nodada in mind already.
Like they already saying, ‘no Thabo needs to be in that squad.’ And that’s how I jetted off, that’s how the USA fell away. I had one path waiting for me, and the chance locally availed itself.