Ntshangase is Maritzburg’s own Napoleon
By Andile Dladla & Mandla Dladla
Some footballers enjoy a successful football career without the pain of suffering from a career threatening injury while for others, injuries are part and parcel of the territory and in some instances, injuries can actually curtail your career.
Injuries come in all guises and while one may suffer from a minor knock, others suffer major injuries that require surgery and it goes without saying that a successful operation could lead to a healthier and better athlete but an operation can also be botched and not only would it require corrective surgery, it could also mean the end of a promising career.
For Phumlani Ntshangase, the versatile former Bidvest University holding midfielder, it has been a groin strain that has not only side-lined him but has required surgery and he is now recovering and hoping to recover soon enough to contribute to the fortunes of Maritzburg United.
Most people that have not seen the ever-present Ntshangase in action lately, they have concluded that perhaps he is ready for the dole queue as they consider him too long in the tooth, but the truth is that he finds himself on the side-lines not by his own choice.
“Finding myself at Bidvest Wits FC and being coached by the like of coach Ashley Makhanya, Charles Johannes and Gavin Hunt was really a blessing for me and for my career,” said Ntshangase who is recuperating from groin surgery that he underwent recently.
“I virtually grew up at Wits University and to be honest I learned quite a lot there in terms of football, team dynamics, professionalism, personality and being able to adjust to everything while attending school and playing in the development ranks until I got promoted to the senior team.
“Winning so many titles including the ABSA Premiership, Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout Cup as well as the MTN 8 Cup twice plus being part of the national team set up was a huge achievement in my life.”
Ntshangase arrived at Maritzburg United two years ago following the shock selling of Bidvest Wits to Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandela and played the first five games and then popped his groin which led to him sitting on the side-lines for three months.
“When I returned to action there were still minor problems relating to possible relegation until coach Ernst Middendorp also arrived at the club and there were further investigations done on the injury and finally it was discovered that it required surgery.”
Few people are aware that an injury can affect a player psychologically and the mental part could be crucial in the healing process. If a player does not adequately deal with the mental part of his injury, it could seriously affect him to such a point that it leaves psychological scars.
“It took me a very long time to recover and even today I still feel a sharp pain here and there. I have never suffered from such a huge injury before and it was really challenging for me because even today I still have to deal with a little bit of trauma as a result of the injury.
“You see, first you have to accept and embrace the fact that you are injured. But then comes the mental part induced usually by the fact that the team is struggling and you wonder if you were not injured, how you would be contributing.
“And then comes the self-doubt. You also start wondering if the team is doing well, whether they would still need you or require your contributions as they appear to be doing well even without you and so, it’s a mental thing that you have to deal with in addition to healing.”
But Ntshangase need not have worried. As soon as Thabiso Kutumela was transferred to defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, he was overwhelmingly appointed the new captain of Maritzburg United, a sure sign of the confidence the club has in him.
“I now have to stick to certain programs to be able to keep playing and stay fit.”
One of the sweetest things about Ntshangase is that he loves his daughter dearly and loves nothing more than spending quality time with her and she is return is also very fond of her father too.
Besides being a good father and footballer, Phumz developed a love for cycling back when he was still in Johannesburg from a guy who was a physiotherapist at Wits and he never looked back and enjoyed cycling with his good friend Sifiso Hlanti.
“We always had discussions with Nick (physiotherapist) and I about other things which are good for us as footballers and which could assist us further. He advised me to get a bicycle and cycle to games and to the gym.
“Among my other hobbies is a deep love for reading books because they (books) taught me a lot of things outside football.”
Like most footballers, Ntshangase also admired and respected certain footballers and admits that his toughest opponents have always been Mamelodi Sundown’s who have been the strongest team for quite some time now in the DSTV Premier Soccer League.
“They are one team that like to keep the ball and on the ground and constantly run at you left right and centre. One of the players I admire so much and who usually gives me a very tough time is Kama Billiat, Themba Zwane and Siphelele Mkhulise.
“Facing this trio is like being engaged in a chess game. You have to think hard and fast and be on your toes all the time because one bad move and you would expose your Queen and before you could recover, they go for goal.
“My message to all our supporters as the leader and captain of the team is that we love all of them and it’s unfortunate that we still can’t be together but we appreciate the messages on social media platforms.
“We plead for their continued support until we meet again at the stadiums hopefully soon. To all the players let’s go for the kill, the spirit is good and we have to put in the good work until the end of the season.”