Van Vuuren is certainly one for the futureThomas Kwenaite
By Mandla & Andile Dladla
Goalkeepers are a rare breed. And even though football is a team sport, goalkeepers are often in the spotlight and while in-field players can afford to commit an error and would easily be forgiven by supporters, unfortunately a goalkeeper cannot afford that indiscretion.
It could be a genuine error of judgement, but it could also result in the team losing by that single error an sometimes the reaction from supporters could be very harsh, and these are some of the realities about the sport that Rowen Van Vuuren is well aware of.
The shot-stopper seems to have settled in very well to life at the newly promoted Sekhukhune United after joining “Ba bina Noko” this season from the now defunct Highlands Park.
His DStv Diski Challenge side finds themselves in an unfamiliar 15th position on the log table, Van Vuuren carries a huge responsibility on his shoulders as the last line of defence commanding his troops as well as captaining the team.
However, despite the heavy load and the challenges they are facing due to their precarious position, Van Vuuren believes that his boys will bounce back in the latter stages of the competition as they aim to secure a top 8 finish and be part of the Diski Shield in the new season.
“I think it is the result of a string of bad performances where our confidence was inexplicably low,” said Van Vuuren. “However, the last weekend’s game against Chippa United prior to the festive break was much better.
“In that game we really showed true grit and fought until the end which was much better as we looked to control the ball but were just unfortunate to still concede in the 92nd minute and went on to lose the game.
“We are obviously still new as it is our first season in the DStv Premiership set-up for us and the senior team, but I think they (seniors) are doing a great job and have hit the ground running.
“It basically means that we have to re-double our efforts and increase our workload at training and it’s paying off because the chairman brought in a lot of experienced players and they have easily gelled well with the younger players.
“With the (Dstv Diski Challenge) team we don’t have many guys that have been experienced the division previously and it’s only three of us who have tasted professional football before while we were at Highlands Park.”
Sharing a first name with a former legend of the game (Rowen Fernandez) former Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper) has inevitably led to fans nicknaming him “Fernandez as well.
“It makes me extremely proud to be associated with such a legend. He (Fernandez) did it for many years and even went on to pursue his career abroad before returning to become Goalkeeper Coach at Maritzburg United.
“Personally I’ve had the opportunity to work with him at Highlands Park and it was both exciting and a privilege to work with him as I learned quite a lot from him but above all, he is a very good coach, humble with an incredible work ethic.”
Van Vuuren said revealed that Fernandez has infused in him that desire to work hard and his ambition is to work harder in order to break into the first team and find himself also campaigning in the Premiership where he can also test himself against the best in the country.
Rowen initially did not start as a goalkeeper but was an infield player until he was 16 years old and the season winding up when their regular goalkeeper was injured and he volunteered to deputize where he played the remaining three matches of the season.
But he performed so well that at the end of the season, their assistant coach asked him to think deeply about becoming a goalkeeper.
At the age of 17 he took the decision to become a permanent goalkeeper and now at 22 the shot-stopper has been doing it only for five years but his game has improved in leaps and bounds even though in this game you never stop learning.
“If you want this to be your life then invest in it with your time, effort and sometimes even sacrifice chilling with friends. Try and follow the right diet, above all concentrate, believe in yourself and be positive in your outlook towards life.”
Very wise words indeed!