Platinum Stars midfielder Tintswalo Tshabalala considers himself a lucky man.
Tshabalala’s amazing football journey has the meaning of his name written all over it. In Xitsonga, Tintswalo means mercy or grace or favour. In fact prior to making it to professional ranks, Tshabalala wanted to be a traffic cop.
“I wanted to be a traffic cop. Most of my friends are traffic cops. I wanted to be like them,” Tshabalala tells Platinumstars.com.
As fate would have it Tshabalala ended up causing traffic on the football pitch working down the flanks. At times he brings to screeching halt speeding wingers at left back. How Tshabalala got his break is stuff destinies are made off. He had been visiting his friend Jabulani Maluleke, who is now the captain of Polokwane City, when his dream materialized.
“One day I went Venda to visit Jabu, who was playing for Black Leopards in the National First Division. When I got there they were playing 11 v 11. Then one player got injured. So they asked Jabu if I can play a makeshift role just to balance the numbers. Jabu told them that I know football but they will see for themselves. The following day they asked me to fill in again. I was fit because I had been training with Farouk Khan’s team – Stars of Africa. After two or three days they wanted to sign me,” said the man known fondly as Scorpion.
“We were negotiating salary and Jabu told them to give me whatever I was asking for. He told them that if I don’t deliver they could deduct some money from his own salary. It was that way that if I don’t perform they would pay me from Jabu’s salary. That’s how I made it. From there as they say the rest is history.”
Tshabalala, who hails from Chiawelo in Soweto, joined Dikwena from Black Leopards in the 2011/12 season. He scored his first goal against Free State Stars in the same season. Tshabalala and his teammates will square off against the same Free State Stars at Goble Park on Wednesday night. Tshabalala will be hoping luck is on their side as Dikwena search for much needed three points.
Kickoff is at 7.30pm.