17 July 2021 – When you see Bafana Bafana well-coordinated, tops and trunks matching and looking their best, know that they did not magically wake up that way. A mastermind was behind the ensemble.
Meet Tumelo Kujane, Kit Manager for the men’s national team – a man who has the meticulous task of ensuring that, from sizes small to large, there is something for every player and every build. And if you think it stops there, you’re wrong! He has also to ensure that the staff are dressed accordingly, making sure that in the sea of uniformity your eye can discern coaches from players.
Tumi, as he is known, has managed the kit department for over two decades, crisscrossing the globe with sometimes more than 300 kilograms in excess luggage, each bag’s contents packed with precision – especially for overseas trips where he doesn’t have the option of running back to the kit room for supplies.
Tumi’s job means that he has met many a player over the years, one of those being Bafana’s current assistant coach. “I met Helman Mkhalele in his hey-day as a national team player and now we meet again. This time I dress him befitting the title as coach, but sometimes I make the mistake of adding him onto my kit list for the players,” Tumi laughs.
Kujane goes onto illustrate how honoured he is to serve at national team level, stressing how seriously takes his role in the team. With the amount of dirty laundry accumulated every day on the Cosafa camp, it is a blessing to have the dressing room taken care of, with the players’ main focus on fitness and game day deliverance only.
He clearly remembers Aletta ‘Shuffle’ Ngidi, the Banyana Kit Manager, who recently passed on due to Covid-19. “Aletta and I shared a kit room. Everything on the Banyana side of the room was always in place. Neat and tidy! She loved what she did and will be missed,” says Kujane.
The assembly line of managing kit and ensuring that all personnel are adequately dressed over a period of almost four weeks might not evoke the glamour of Paris Fashion Week, but believe it or not camp does have a catwalk, and when the players step out looking their best it’s all thanks wardrobe mastermind, Tumelo Kujane.