Leon Korkie – A man for all seasons!
By Andile Dladla and Mandla Dladla
Football is not just dubbed the “beautiful game” for nothing. It can provide countless moments where one cannot help but simply feel blessed and fortunate enough to be part of historical events that could last a lifetime.
For Stellenbosch FC kit manager Leon Korkie his unforgettable moment occurred when the team from the winelands of South Africa in the fairest Cape won promotion from the GladAfrica Championship to the DSTV Premiership during the 2018/19 season.
In the past, people used to look down at a kit man and perhaps unaware of the important function they perform but in reality they are the most important members of any successful team due to the role and duties that are performed behind the scenes.
“One of the most challenging things about my job is that there is not a lot of kit managers in this environment,” said Korkie. “But I hope to inspire enough youths in order to see in future enough done to put the spotlight on young people so that they should learn about this job and what it entails.
Korkie also doubles up as a massage therapist for Stellies and makes sure that before the team fly to away matches there are players who come to him the night prior to departure so he can give them massages and prepare them for the upcoming trip and the eventual encounter.
“It is rewarding for me at the end of the day to see them ready and better prepared for a game knowing they are in good physical shape.
“As the team of kit managers at Stellies from the development structures right up to the senior team we have to make sure that the guys are looking neat at all times. We issue the players with four different kits each player per season, two home and additional two for away fixtures.
Born and bred in Stellenbosch, he attended school in the area until he completed matric. He began working at Stellenbosch University as a general worker for 15 years and participated a bit in hockey. He equipped himself academically by completing a massage therapy course at the university while also working.
It was to come in handy years later as he has worked at one of the biggest cycling events in South Africa – the ABSA Cape Epic – and with successful teams and individuals that have gone on to become the world’s best.
Western Province Rugby, SA Sevens Rugby, 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk, Cheslin Kolbe and Chad le Close are teams and individuals he is proud to have assisted as a massage therapist.
“My duty as a kit man is to make sure I put the players first and serve them diligently. I’ve been involved with the team since 2018 while we were still in the GladAfrica Championship. I worked with the team throughout the season voluntarily with no pay and just doing it out of love.
Eventually his passionate and hard work was rewarded when CEO Rob Benadie asked me the following season if I wanted to join the club on a full-time basis and I have been employed permanently since.
One of my proudest moment is seeing the growth of young players that are all born in a small town like Stellenbosch but making names for themselves in the demanding league. The likes of Jadan Adams, Deano van Rooyen and Ashley du Preez are future stars.