Amajimbos defender Thendo Mukumela has grown immensely since joining the U17 National team, the opportunity that was bestowed on him by Coach Ntseki has seen his career evolve in a short space of time.
Amajimbos defender Thendo Mukumela has grown immensely since joining the U17 National team, the opportunity that was bestowed on him by Coach Ntseki has seen his career evolve in a short space of time. SAFA Media took some time to speak to Mukumela and reminisce about the journey he has been on.
NM: Thendo, give me a brief background about where you come from and how you started football?
TM: I come from a small village in Limpopo called Ngwenani which is located just outside Thohoyandou, I am a first born of three kids and a Venda speaking South African. I don’t remember when I started playing football but I have always been comfortable with a ball around me.
NM: I remember that you were part of the first squad of the u17 National team when Coach Ntseki was appointed in April 2014, share some memories with us from the first camp you had?
TM: *LAUGHS* That first camp was actually the first time I used my passport we went to a place called Swakopmound in Namibia, we didn’t do well in the 4 Nations Tournament that we went to participate in. I remember Coach Ntseki saying after that tournament that he had to look for new players because based on our performance we were not ready to be a national team. That statement worried me, it made me think so many different things, I thought what if I never get a call up again, what if this is the end of my career before it even got off, I mean I only had one stamp in my passport *giggles*.
NM: You guys qualified for the final of the 2015 U/17 CAN and the World Cup later this year, how do you feel about this?
TM: Beating Nigeria in the semi final of CAN was awesome, but Mali gave us a run for our money in the final. I am very proud of my teammates and myself of course, they keep saying in the media that we have made history; they keep saying that we are the first u17 group to ever qualify for the World Cup, this is awesome news and I hope we can break more records in Chile.
NM: Have you learnt any new things from been in the national team, to enhance your career?
TM: Yes definitely, I learnt never to underestimate my opponents. I have also learnt the importance of teamwork, we need each other very much to achieve our goals, and this is a life lesson that I have learnt through football. I have also made new family which means so much, and thanks to Coach Ntseki and the whole support staff my game has grown so much in the past year.
NM: Playing for the national team opened some doors for you, do you agree, talk to me about those doors?
TM: I agree one hundred percent, I used to play of an LFA team in Venda named Ngwenani Young Chiefs this was early last year when I receive my national call up . The national team coaches saw me at the 2014 SAFA Interprovincial Tournament. My life has changed dramatically since then because I now play for the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy. I had to move from Venda to come to Pretoria to open a door, I participate in the MDC and I am a regular at the national team, so in a space of a year at least eight doors have been unlocked by the grace of God.
NM: What do you want to achieve at the u17 FIFA World Cup and what are some for your short term goals with regards to your career?
TM: I would love to win the World Cup like all the other players and teams I believe, I would love to have the country singing our praises, short time goals are to obviously go and impress in Chile, I hope that I can be scouted by an international club to see whether I have the potential to make it overseas.