Mokwena reached top coaching level the hard way
Chippa United coach Rulani Mokwena says he had to work twice as hard as his counterparts in the Absa Premiership because he did not have the cushion of being an ex-professional soccer player at the start of his career.
PSL coaches who were once professionals started their journey with an advantage because their names already held weight in the football environment.
Mokwena said that put him on the back foot in the coaching scene.
“At a young age I realised I didn’t have the cushion to protect myself with my profile or reputation as an ex-professional,” he told Radio 702.
“I started handicapped and when you start handicapped you have to work twice as hard to make sure you can be competitive.”
The 35-year-old worked with a number of experienced coaches at the start of his career, but said it was Steve Komphela who installed the seed for him to strive for excellence in the job.
The duo’s relationship dates back to 2009, when they worked together at Platinum Stars and Komphela promoted Mokwena from U19 coach to assistant first-team coach.
“When you look back you think, ‘My goodness, what did he see in me and how did he have so much belief in me’," he said.
“I always say that when I look back at my journey I understand where I started and I am 100% sure that everything I went through was for a good cause.
“Even at Platinum Stars I got there before Steve Komphela, in 2007.
“I remember when he got suspended for two games, he called me up and said, ‘Listen, I want you to be part of the first team and take my place on the bench’.
“The first game was against Bobby Solomons in Cape Town and we lost 2-1, but for him to give me that sense of responsibility at such a young age was something that inspired me to continue to improve myself.”
Mokwena said the investment Komphela put into his career was important because it went on to spark an inquisitiveness and desire that allowed him to continue making sacrifices for the game.