Thuto Mphahlele, captain of the victorious School of Excellence team in the 2012 Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup, made his professional soccer debut recently when he played for SuperSport United against the visiting Manchester City team.
He feels it is an honour to be playing for SuperSport. “So far I have played one game for the team, it was against Manchester City and we won 2-0. I was nervous and excited at the same time; I could not believe that I was playing against a renowned International soccer team. That’s where I see myself in the years to come, playing for an International team.”With the PSL League starting this weekend, judging by his performance in the pre-season build up, he could well be in line for the PSL Rookie of the Year.
The 19 year-old defender comes from a soccer-loving family. His father, Kgosi Mphahlele, was a soccer player, he used to play for a local team in Mahikeng and Thuto started taking an interest in the game at the age of 9 years, playing in the yard around the house, and for his school, Sol Plaatje Primary School.
He started at the School Of Excellence at the age of 12 as he wanted to attend a sports academy because he knew his soccer career would be developed and taken care of there.
In 2007 he attended trials at the SuperSport Tottenham Hotspur Development Academy, and although he wasn’t accepted, he never gave up on that dream. “In 2011 I went back for trials again and this time around I got accepted and since then I have been playing for their development team,” he said. “Then in January 2013 I got signed up by Supersport United FC, which has always been my dream.”
Thuto was part of the School of Excellence team in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe competition for five years from 2008 to 2012. The highlight was undoubtedly last year when they won the competition, which meant they earned the school R1.1 million. “It was a huge achievement for us as a team and for the school. Knowing that I led the team to victory as captain was special to me.”
Two of his team mates are also now playing professional soccer – Stanley Muishond, who is at Vasco Da Gama FC and Tshepo Mabuya who also plays for SuperSport United. “I think that the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup is very important because the players get to be seen by scouts from the PSL teams,” Thuto says. “If it was not for the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup, I would not be where I am today. I admire Mr Motsepe for his dedication to soccer development.”
Thuto has been back to his old school where he gave a talk to the current players. “I told them to love and respect the game of soccer, if they ever make it big they should always remain content and respectful.”