Njabulo Ngidi.

I talk about my father quite a lot because he was a great man and I miss him.

He passed away when I was in Grade 8, just starting high school, which is an awkward time because you don’t really know whether you’re coming or going.

The little time I spent with him, though, shaped me to be the man that I am today.

The biggest lesson he taught me was being comfortable with my masculinity. He spent a long time unemployed, with my mother the breadwinner.

My father taught me how to cook, clean and wash while my mother, a carpenter, taught me how to make a table and how to fix things around the house.

One was a nurturer and the other a provider. The provider ensured that there was food on the table and we had electricity.

The nurturer shaped me to be the person that I am today. Because of the different roles that they played, my relationship with them was different.

Obviously I was closer to the nurturer because of the time I spent with him and the life lessons I learned from him.

What I admire the most about my parents is that they were both comfortable in the roles they played, and they weren’t affected by what people from the outside said about them.

They did what they had to do to raise and support their children.

The relationship that Orlando Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic has with his assistant Rhulani Mokwena reminded me of the relationship that my parents have.

One is a provider and the other is a nurturer. Sredojevic is the head, and he is the one who gives direction of where the team is going.

It’s ultimately his head on the chopping block. He looks at things from a helicopter view, while Mokwena is the nurturer.

Mokwena works on the minute details with each player individually, which helps them grow.

That’s why players talk about Mokwena fondly; he nurtures them on an individual basis by highlighting small details in their game that they might not have been aware of, but once they work on those, they become better.

But that doesn’t mean he is the club’s head coach.

Sredojevic must be commended for being comfortable with his talent to allow Mokwena to play the role that he does.

The Serbian coach calls Mokwena his brother and says that he doesn’t believe in titles; they both do what needs to be done to contribute towards the team’s success.

Micho Sredojevic is the provider and Rhulani Mokwena the nurturer at Orlando Pirates, writes Njabulo Ngidi. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Their love for Pirates unites them. Sredojevic describes himself as a Pirates fan before he is the club’s head coach.

Mokwena’s blood is black and white as the son of Julius ‘KK’, Sono which makes him the grandson of Eric ‘Scara’ Son and nephew of Jomo Sono.

Those men are royalty at the club.

The love that Sredojevic and Mokwena have for the club is evident in their work ethic and their passion.

This is more than a pay cheque for them. Sredojevic said his heart ached when the team wasn’t doing well last season while he was still managing Uganda.

Mokwena said he came here to “ease the pain of this sleeping giant and wipe away my late grandfather’s tears, to allow him to rest in peace by responding to a call from a club that continues to live in him”.

It takes a man who is comfortable with himself to surround himself with strong figures who will question their decisions and challenge them.

Having such a figure can only help you grow and be better at what you do because your brain is constantly stimulated.

Sredojevic might not be the one who brought Mokwena to Pirates, but he has embraced his presence and allowed him to shine.

The reason why people misinterpret the roles they play is because they’ve grown used to many assistants who are just glorified ball-boys and yes-men.

“They are the best of both worlds really – coach Micho is more like a father figure, while Rhulani is the strict older brother. Coach Micho is humble and direct; he calls a spade a spade,” Xola Mlambo told the club’s website.



Saturday Star

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