JOHANNESBURG - A bold step backwards propelled Letlhogonolo Mirwa to return with force in his quest to become the best defender in the country and don the colours of the club he grew up supporting.
The 23-year-old leftback left the plush life of Mamelodi Sundowns’ development ranks for the 'jungle' that is the ABC Motsepe League to play for Buya Msuthu. Mirwa spent almost a year at Sundowns in 2016 under coach David Notoane. He left in December for the amateur ranks.
“I believe in challenges, testing yourself and seeing what you’re made of. When you’re in the same environment for a long time and you don’t see any changes, you just have to be brave and make the decision to change” Mirwa said. “My time at Sundowns was for me to be developed. It was part of my journey to be where I am today.”
Today Mirwa is a Kaizer Chiefs’ player, the club he supported while growing up in Segakwaneng in North West. He was the “other” player when Chiefs’ unveiled Khama Billiat and Andriamirado “Dux” Andrianarimanana on June 22. Chiefs’ clash with Sundowns in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup was also his first meeting with his former team, just like Billiat.
He didn’t exact his authority at the FNB Stadium like he did in the Bokone Bophirima Maize Cup in Orkney against his other former team, Buya Msuthu. In that match Mirwa was confident and loud, even telling senior players in defence what to do to keep the shape.
“It says a lot about the talent we have as a country that I have gone from the ABC Motsepe League to the PSL,” Mirwa said. “I have good teammates who support me. That’s why I play with so much confidence. It has to do a lot with the fact that I am doing what I love. When you love something, you just go and do it without fear.”
“Scara” has to fight for his place if he is to be Chiefs’ regular leftback. Amakhosi are in the market for another leftback to bolster a department that also has Philani Zulu. Mirwa has just over a week to cement his place in the starting XI or even sneak into it for the league opener against Sundowns on August 4. Before then Chiefs play a friendly against Cape Town City at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday in the Mpumalanga Cultural Xperience Cup.
"Every opportunity given comes with responsibility,” Mirwa said. “My move to Chiefs was a blessing. I get to show why I am blessed and why I love football. It’s an inspiration to other players to pursue their dreams and not give up. Stick with what you like and you’ll succeed.”