CAPE TOWN – Life often unfolds in unexpected ways as ambition and career-driven pursuits take us to different places. And, while it may catapult us from the comforts of home and the bosom of close friends and family, it does, however, make the return so much more emotional.
Maritzburg United captain and central defender Bevan Fransman was caught up in the depth of this feeling when he stood on the balcony of City Hall on Monday morning to hand over a club jersey to the City of Cape Town.
The KwaZulu-Natal side are preparing for the Nedbank Cup final against Free State Stars at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (7pm kickoff).
It’s the first time a major final is being hosted in the Mother City - and, as a proud Capetonian, Fransman is chuffed to be leading Maritzburg out in a match of such stature in his own hometown.
“For me, this is a very special game,” said Fransman. “It’s at home and all the friends and family will be in the stadium to support. Usually, when we come down for a league game, to play Ajax or City, they (supporters) have to sit as the away fans - this time they can get behind Maritzburg and make us feel like the home team.
But, for this final, there is certainly added motivation for me to lead the team out for a final in the city I was born.”
Fransman is from Fairways and he certainly has the football genes. His dad, Paul, is a well-known ex-footballer who played for St Athens and Battswood. He was a strong, robust defender - and, as it always turns out genetically, Fransman junior is much the same; a chip off the old block.
Fransman’s junior career was spent at Battswood, Cape Town Spurs and FC Fortune, the club founded by former Bafana Bafana and Manchester United star Quinton Fortune.
In 1999, he was just a teenager when he played one PSL game for Mother City FC before his career took him to Belgium for a spell with Mouscron. He returned to South Africa for stints with Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows, but then it was overseas again - this time to Israel with clubs like Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
By 2012, it was back to the PSL for Fransman: to SuperSport United and then Bloemfontein Celtic before signing for Maritzburg two years ago.
“Overseas is different,” said Fransman when comparing his time in Europe with the football in the PSL. “Here, the game is high tempo, while in Europe there is (a) greater emphasis on tactics. Also, the approach to the game overseas is more professional, while the following of football over there is quite fanatical.”
So what prompted the move to Maritzburg in 2016?
“When I came to Maritzburg, everybody probably would have said it was ludicrous to make such a move,” said Fransman. “The club had just avoided relegation, so why would I want to join them. But I had been watching Maritzburg and the problem was that they would score two goals and the opposition would get three.
“This season we said if we concede less than 26 goals, we should do well if you look, you will see that we only let in 23 goals in the league this season and we finished fourth on the log. So it’s worked well - because a team always has to have a base from which to work from.”