New coach inspiring team

Straight-talking Maketa wants to see Warriors return to their winning ways

THE first thing that strikes one when talking to newly appointed Chevrolet Warriors coach Malibongwe Maketa is his straight-talking, no BS kind of manner.

There are no airs and graces. The 34-year-old former Border allrounder is a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy. There is also a humbleness about him. Ask him why he thinks his players relate to him so well and he covers everything else except the question about himself.

He need not say a word though, because his team have been doing the talking on the field of play. Yes, there have been losses, but there have been more wins.

Maketa took over as interim coach when Piet Botha resigned in December last year.

He responded to the task by assisting the team in winning two of their first three Sunfoil Series matches. The other was a draw which, had there not been so much time lost to bad light, could easily have been a win as well.

The Warriors were down and out at the halfway stage of the Momentum One-Day Cup, with only one win from five matches. He helped turn that around as well and took the team to the brink of qualifying for the playoff.

He did so well that Cricket Eastern Cape gave him the job on a full-time basis three weeks ago. He obviously has a quality which endears him to people around him. The word from within the camp is that his man-management skills are out of the top drawer.

So what is his secret? It’s a pretty simple philosophy really, but one which very few people manage to pull off.

“Focusing on the individual, making sure he understands where he fits in and what is required,” says Maketa.

“Yes, it’s a team sport, but it is played by individuals and in the end they have to go out there and execute their skills.

“I try with all my means to give them the backing to go out there and represent themselves and the team.

“They must put the team first but also make themselves proud of their personal performances. It’s very easy for a coach to lay out his plan but I believe a player has to find his own way in doing things. Guys must focus on the Warriors badge and have fun doing it.”

Maketa’s journey with cricket began when he attended a township school in Zwelitsha called Manezi Higher Primary. His talents with bat and ball were soon noticed and he was plucked out of the township and awarded a cricket bursary at Dale Junior in King William’s Town.

“From there I was fortunate to be picked up by Border Cricket at an early stage. I think I was 11 at the time. I enjoyed my education there.”

After junior school he focused on cricket and rugby.

He played cricket for the Dale first team from Standard 7 and first team rugby from Standard 8, playing both flyhalf and centre. He went on to play for Border as an allround cricketer. But his career was cut short due to the recurrence of an injury.

“I went to the U15 World Cup in England in 1996-97 and I broke down with stress fractures there. It took me a year to get back from that and during that time I was a guinea pig for Dr Tim Noakes and Dr Richard Stretch.

“Stress fractures were not common then so I worked with them. I did lots of trials with Dr Stretch and I flew to Cape Town twice a month to work with Dr Noakes on exercises they were trying out.”

The injury persisted and when the franchise era came along and he failed to secure a contract, he decided to switch to coaching.

“To be honest, I started coaching just to get petrol money. I really enjoyed it in terms of helping kids progress. From there I started taking it very seriously and I went to Dale Junior as a cricket and rugby coach.”

He also spent eight years at the Titans as an assistant coach before moving to the Warriors two years ago.

And what of life outside cricket? “It’s just cricket, cricket and family. I try to focus on making sure I’m a good dad to my two daughters and a good husband. I spend so much time away so when I can, I spend a lot of time with family.”

And where does he see his relationship with the Warriors going?

“It’s almost a building block for the next phase of Warriors cricket. I’d like to make sure I leave the team in a better place than where I found it.

“We have a young squad now and when I leave I want these guys to be winning trophies or ready to win trophies. I’m happy to say that we trying to bring in new players.”