When Khayelitsha born footballer Mark “Professor” Mayambela donned the number-15 jersey in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), the crowd erupted in excitement at his skill and flair on the ball.
For over 15 years, the Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates legend made idiski look easy on and off the ball. But now, after playing his last game for Cape Umoya, he has decided to hang up his boots.
“I think for me it was about time. I’ve played football for a very long time. What is important is to retire while I am strong,” he said.
But Mayambela is not entirely done with the ball, as he will be travelling to Ireland, in July, to complete his Uefa B coaching licence.
Mayambela owes his resilience in the game to hard work, but more importantly, the chance to be given an opportunity to showcase his talent from an early age.
He started playing football for a team called Fast Eleven in Khayelitsha, before representing Trinitarians in the Vodacom League (ABC Motsepe League) for a season at the age of 15. Since then, he has gone on to play for Old Mutual Academy, Supersport United, Chippa United, Ajax Cape Town, Djurgarden (Sweden), Mpumalanga Black Aces, Cape Town City and Chippa United.
Right close to him is his younger brother, Mihlali, who has gone on to become a household name in Portugal for SC Farense.
A few years ago, Mihlali won the Player of the Tournament award in the Bayhill Premier Cup for Cape Town All-Stars. Before that, he was a promising prodigy at ASD Academy and at Djurgarden, to name a few.
Under the Mayambela Foundation, the brothers felt they have a duty to uplift the community by introducing the HollywoodBets Mayambela Community Cup.
Since 2016, the under-21 tournament has come a long way from being a typical Easter “Kasi” event to introducing youth development programmes by medical professionals and professional coaches on issues such as mental health awareness, depression, substance abuse, and personal coaching clinics.
Above all, the Cup will see 32 men’s teams and eight women’s teams battling it out at the Khayelitsha Stadium, from Friday April 15 to Monday April 18. Teams come from as far as Strand, Helderberg, Crossroads, Gaansbaai, Elsiesriver and Khayelitsha.
“It is nice to see that we have teams from all of these areas participating in the tournament. We had to turn down so many teams because of the number of applications. Maybe next year we will have the tournament at more stadiums and we will invite more teams to join,” said Mayambela.
Finalists will be presented with brand new kits and a variety of prizes; including a Player of the Tournament award. The overall winners will be taking home R30 000, with the runners up receiving R15 000.
“The goal of the tournament is to uplift local football and to give back to local players through the love of football and the passion to grow our society. We are trying to fight many social issues for the young men and women while we create a tournament that will grow and represent the township. Whatever you do, there should be passion. Passion helps us to stay strong even in tough situations,” said Mayambela.
Between 18 and 20 of the best players will be selected for a three-week-long coaching and training programme with Mark Mayambela. The team will play friendlies with a couple of elite teams from around Cape Town, with the goal of showcasing their talents on proper grounds, in front of scouts and established football clubs.
Chairman at Goalhunters Football Club, Anella Botha, from Khayelitsha, said the tournament is a good initiative to showcase local talent to scouts from all across the country.
“The scouts will give the players an extra boost. A majority of our players are 19 years and younger. This will be an opportunity for them to express themselves ahead of the season,” said Botha.