#AmaTuks: “I also attest to the fact that playing football transforms lives,” says Thabiso Mokoena

Posted on February 28, 2024

Thabiso Mokoena can claim to have been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt to prove it - playing football at the highest level.

The 31-year-old has played for SuperSport United and the Black Leopards. For the last three years, he has been at AmaTuks. Many might perceive playing in the National First Division as a "demotion," but not for Mokoena. He is a man on a mission. The AmaTuks player believes AmaTuks is good enough to play in the DStv Premiership and is prepared to put his body and mind on the line to help them do so. 

He is not the only one to do so. Mokoena’s passion is reaping dividends. Last week, he captained the AmaTuks side that beat Cape Town Spurs one-nil to enter the last 16 phase of the 2024 Nedbank Cup tournament. 

Mokoena is decidedly proud of what has been achieved, but to him, the team mustn't lose focus. 

"Our fundamental goal, actually our only goal, is to win the National First Division League. If we do so, it is a mission accomplished. AmaTuks will be back in the Premiership League. Currently, we are topping the log, but there can be no resting on one's laurels. For me, the tournament is now starting in earnest. As log leaders, all the teams will be gunning for us. It means we have to be at our best for every game. Playing in the Nedbank Cup is a bonus. It is an opportunity to give some players more game time to hone their skills."

AmaTuks has won nine of the 19 games they have played in the 2023–24 Motsepe Foundation Championship season, drawn seven, and lost three to top the log with 34 points. The last time AmaTuks played in the Premiership League was in 2016.

Mokoena has been playing football since he can remember. It is a family thing. His dad and uncles all played. To him, football is the "people's game.". 

"Football brings people together and gets them talking. I also attest to the fact that playing football transforms lives. Where I grew up in Heidelberg, the temptation was there to drink and take drugs. I did not, because football is my passion. As I said, a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.

"Playing professional football made me realise that there are pitfalls. Playing for one of the top teams makes it easy to be seduced by the fame, money, and fast cars. If you do, a player can lose everything. It is something I continuously bring across to the younger players."

As to playing as a midfielder, Mokoena said he sees his role as a playmaker. 

"I am on the field to disrupt the opposition's tactics when on the attack. It means you have to be able to read the game. Being a good distributor of the ball is of cardinal importance. You don't want a pass to be intercepted. As captain, it is essential to be a confidant of every player, as I am the one who liaises between them and the coaches. You also got your teammates to buy into the goals set."

AmaTuks will play Platinum City Rovers in an away game next Sunday.

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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