Following Kaizer Chiefs’ announcement of Wiseman Meyiwa’s premature retirement due to injuries sustained in a car accident last year, Daniel Mothowagae tracked down former Polokwane City player Kopano Sekgobela who suffered a similar fate in 2012
It has been almost seven years since the car accident that confined Kopano Sekgobela to a wheel-chair.
But, to this day, the one-time promising attacker told City Press, he is still emotionally drained by his circumstances.
Sekgobela said his situation was aggravated by the fact that his passion for the game had not waned.
He sometimes “breaks inside” when watching live PSL matches, cursing that “I can do better than that player”.
This is the reason the 28-year-old is willing to meet Wiseman Meyiwa for a “motivational session” with the Kaizer Chiefs dynamo, whose career was cut shot in a similar fashion.
Former Polokwane City player Sekgobela constantly refers to “11-11” – shorthand for November 11 2012, the fateful day the team bus was involved in an accident that also claimed the lives of four of his team-mates.
Ironically, Meyiwa also had his car accident in the month of November – though his was on the N3 highway near Villiers in the Free State while he was on his way home to Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.
BROKEN DREAMS Wiseman Meyiwa will not play football again as he is set to be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life
“To be honest, I am not someone who just accepts everything, but I had to come to terms with my condition after I was told that I would never play football again; that I am paralysed,” said Sekgobela.
He never got a chance to fulfil his dream of playing for one of the “big three” teams – Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns.
“Sorry to Chiefs for losing such a wonderful player. Also, as a country, we lost. But I urge Wiseman to be strong. It is not easy, my brother, but you need to be mentally strong to overcome this.
“At this point, he also needs 100% support from home. He shouldn’t be ashamed of himself, but be thankful that God spared his life.
“Again, through rehabilitation, he will learn a lot. They teach us to do things for ourselves and not depend too much on others,” said Sekgobela, who spent two months in rehab at a private hospital in Pretoria after a spell in the intensive care unit.
“I can now bath myself, dress myself and drive, even though I have my cousin by my side most of the time.”
IN HIS HEYDAY Kopano Sekgobela before the accident
Just like Meyiwa, Sekgobela is unable to move his legs because his body is paralysed from the waist down.
Sekgobela urged Chiefs to “give Wiseman the full PSL player insurance payout and not be like Polokwane City”.
He claimed City got R320 000 and offered him half of that amount.
Sekgobela, who owns an amateur club called Noko FC in his village of Driekop in Limpopo, also receives the monthly government disability grant.
He has a Safa coaching badge thanks to the SA Football Players Union, which facilitated this move for him in 2013.
“I am still going strong thanks to the support of my mother, Tubake Sekgobela; my wife, Tshego Matemane; and my cousin Tumi,” said the last born of a family of three children.
Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung said the club would not engage with the media on some of the confidential issues, such as Meyiwa’s insurance claim and what exactly they meant when they declared that Amakhosi would “support the player”.
“The accident happened not so long ago. It is still fresh and an issue like insurance is a confidential matter that involves the player and the club. There is still a long way to go, but I can assure you that we are going to support the player.”
The missing link in Safa’s Vision 2022
Renowned national junior coach Molefi Ntseki is among those who are struggling to come to terms with the calamity that has befallen Meyiwa.
Once promising Polokwane City striker Kopano Sekgobela is still able to drive
He has worked with Meyiwa since 2014, overseeing the midfielder’s progress in the Under-17 team (Amajita) as its head coach, as well as at the Under-20s (Amajimbos) as the team’s technical director.
The two also had a stint together at Bafana Bafana during the 2017 Cosafa Cup, where Ntseki is currently assistant to Stuart Baxter.
“Looking at his age and achievements, our expectations were very high for this young boy. It’s a serious setback when one considers that we had a plan for him,” said Ntseki, also revealing that this was a message he relayed to the player’s mother last week.
The coach was part of the Safa contingent that visited the player at a rehabilitation facility in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“Wiseman was part of the generation of players that we had identified as part of Safa’s Vision 2022. We were hoping that he would be in Niger right now, helping Amajita at the ongoing CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations.
“History was also beckoning for him, because he was on the verge of becoming the first South African player to have played in three World Cups. But what else can we say? We can only be happy that he is alive,” Ntseki said.
Meyiwa represented South Africa at the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup tournaments in Chile (2015) and South Korea (2017), respectively.
At Afcon, which kicked off in Niger on Saturday, Amajimbos are chasing a ticket to the global youth showpiece, which will be staged in Poland between May and June.
That is, if coach Thabo Senong’s team finishes among the top four at the continental tournament, which ends on February 17.
Messages of support
In a show of true sportsmanship, local football clubs as well as ordinary South Africans sent out messages of support after Chiefs broke the sad news on Thursday.
Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic was among a throng of well-wishers and penned a message to Meyiwa.
In his message, via his official Twitter account, the Serb said he believed “miracles do happen”, and that Meyiwa would recover and return to where he belongs – “on the football pitch”.