JOHANNESBURG – The Golden Boot award that Luvuyo Memela received at Orlando Pirates’ awards in Rivonia on Thursday filled the midfielder with a sense of pride and embarrassment.
The pride stems from what he has gone through to not only represent the Buccaneers but be among their best performers in a career littered with disappointments and injuries. The 30-year-old spent three years at Ajax Cape Town without breaking into the first team before going to Hanover Park and Chippa United in the first division.
He then joined Cape Town All Stars in the amateur ranks, helping the side gain promotion to the first division which led to the Buccaneers snapping him up three years ago. He played his best football for Pirates last season and finished with five goals - a paltry total that was enough to give him the Golden Boot nonetheless.
“This award means that I must keep pushing and working hard,” Memela said. “I must try and score more goals because five is not a huge number. If it was 20 or 25 then I would be happy. Getting this recognition now, not just the award but people realising what I can do, is humbling.
It also teaches others who are out there who still want to make it around this age that they can make it because there are a lot of players who are playing and don’t believe that their day will come. I hope that this award and my achievement from last season inspires them not to give up.”
Memela’s resilience will now see him play in the CAF Champions League. That’s a huge move for a player who was in the ABC Motsepe League less than five years ago. The Buccaneers will battle it out against the big boys in the continent later this year for the first time since they lost in the final of the 2013 Champions League. Memela is confident that this generation can do better than the class of 2013.
“We can go all the way in the Champions League,” Memela said. “I know that the Champions League is tough but if we put our minds to it, and not worry about small things like fatigue, travelling, hotels and the heat - we can do wonders. There’ll always be challenges in everything that you do in life, you shouldn’t be defined by those challenges or let them get the better of you. You must put in the work and rise above those challenges.”
The challenge for the Buccaneers is to make their improvement count for something this season. Pirates went from registering their worst finish in the PSL-era two seasons ago to fighting for the championship in the last campaign in coach Micho Sredojevic’s first season.
“There’s a lot that we still need to improve on,” Memela said. “Obviously we must win trophies. We all want to win trophies. If it was up to me, we would win all the trophies on offer because we’ve got the quality. We have to work hard, listen to the coaches and do our homework.
We’re given homework to analyse teams as players, how we’re going penetrate them and how they are going to penetrate us. If we work together as we did, especially towards the end of the season, we will get something at the end of the coming season.”