Article by Mandla and Andile Dladla
It is interesting to observe countless local coaches getting involved in the overall development of domestic football and one of them is a passionate and dedicated head coach of the SuperSport United Diski Challenge team.
Kwanele Kopo has been a shining light in local football and confesses to have been privileged to work with various junior and senior national teams as well as working at the actual African nations Cup finals and World Cup.
In addition to being the SuperSport Diski Challenge head coach, he is also assistant coach to David Notoane, the South African National U-23 side headed for the Olympic Games in June as well as deputy to recently dismissed Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki.
His ambition is to always try and work at the highest level.
“Stability is very important for me,” said Kopo. “I would like to coach at the highest level but when the time is right and the opportunity presents itself. I would like to progress and work at the highest level but one has to be patient because these things take time”.
Working at youth level, he believes that he can still progress because in a coaching environment growth comes with aspiration to be able to coach at the highest possible level at club and at national level to gain the necessary knowledge, experience and opportunity to advance to that international stage.
“Contract situations are always not easy one but we have an understanding at Supersport United. They have looked after me over the years. There is an opportunity for me to go somewhere else because the club has always said they will allow me to move.
“Although I am contractually tied down however, the flexibility to move is there and I am happy with the arrangement we have in place. We don’t sit every year and sign a new contract but we have developed an understanding of how to work and move forward together.
“I think senior Head coach Kaitano Tembo has done exceptionally well to be honest. When he retired from football he came to the academy to learn the ropes and do his licences and was given the opportunity to grow. At that time I was the technical director of the academy.
“He’s had opportunities to work as an assistant to both Gavin Hunt and Stuart Baxter. The grounding that he got from the Supersport youth academy plus the exposure to our international partners, especially when we had a relationship with Tottenham Hotspurs has enabled all of us to grow.
“When you put all that together with his playing experience coupled with his character, it shows in how well he has done as the head coach of the first team. He has been able to bring through a number of young stars during challenging financial times while keeping the team competitive”, says coach Kopo.
Teboho Mokoena, Sipho Mbule, Luke le Roux, Jamie Webber, Keenan Phillips and Zama Rambuwane are some of the graduates that have come from the development and are holding the torch in the senior team.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our lives forever and the absence of spectators at matches has had an effect on the performance of teams.
“But we are grateful amongst limitations that still exist that we are able to progress with professional sport. Even though people are not able to go to stadiums, they are still able to watch the games on television.
“Yes, having no supporters at stadiums does have an impact on the game and it’s different for the players to play in empty stadiums when they have always been used to either singing or shouting from supporters.
“Somehow it (lack of spectators at football grounds) turn to take away the excitement and entertaining element of the game. It also have a massive financial impact on clubs and the game in general as there had been no finance accrued from the gates for more than a year now and inevitably could cripple clubs with smaller budgets.”
Kopo, like many of us, are looking forward to the day spectators would be allowed back into stadiums again!