New club Cape Town City, under new management, needed a captain when they were formed last season.
There were some candidates, but Lebogang Manyama was not at first thought to be a natural pick for the job.
At the time, coach Eric Tinkler was quickly won over by Tembisa-born Manyama’s leadership ability and work ethic. Here’s why he’s regarded as being the best man for the job.
Manyama’s effect on the City squad can be seen in the steady, consistent performances. The thing about good leaders is that they don’t just get people to follow, they also bring out the best in everybody around them.
In short, they don’t only lead and inspire, but they bring out leadership qualities in others. And, so, at City, you see players like Shu-Aib Walters, defenders Tshepo Gumede and Robyn Johannes, Austrian Roland Putsche, left back Edmilson, striker Lehlohonolo Majoro and many others digging deep and finding qualities within themselves that they never knew were there.
With these players performing as leaders, too, it creates a whole that is solid and professional – and this, in turn, allows Manyama to fully blossom as a player, knowing that his teammates are on the same wavelength as he is.
Manyama leads by example. He’s not the type who tells the players to go and do something; instead, he stands alongside them, and says “let’s go do this together”.
And, then, he sets the example by heading into the trenches and making things happen. When the rest of the team sees the skipper digging in, and putting in the hard yards, there’s nothing left for them to do, but to emulate.
And this is why the team spirit and unity is so strong at City – because they all rally around the inspirational presence of Manyama.
Many an outsider has been heard to comment “he doesn’t really look like a footballer, does he?” With his wide upper body, you wouldn’t think he’d pack that much skill and creativity, but that is exactly Manyama’s strength.
His appearance is deceptive. He doesn’t look as if he could easily ghost beyond a defender, but he does. He doesn’t look like he’s very quick, but he is.
He doesn’t look as if he could be agile and twisty in possession, but he is. And, while defenders are still trying to work out what to do, the ball is in the net, or an opportunity has been presented to a City teammate, and the ball is in the net.
It’s the confidence, though, that is Manyama’s greatest asset: When he gets the ball, he always has the self-belief that he can make something happen –and, most times, he does.
ROUTE TO CAPTAINCY
Initially, after City were established in June last year, it looked as if the experienced Vincent Kobola was slated to be captain. In fact, as the club’s former coach Eric Tinkler admitted, he didn’t really think much of Manyama at the time.
But later he said: “Once I joined City, started training, and got to know him (Manyama) and seeing his work ethic in training, my whole opinion changed. You could see the talent, but I knew he needed to be challenged because of his ability, so making him captain was the right choice. And I think he’s led by example.”
Benni McCarthy is the new man in charge of City, and he, too, has continued to deploy Manyama as skipper, safe in the knowledge that he has a footballer every member of the squad respects.
The City success story is a classic example of the benefits of good leadership. Because it is in their charisma and work ethic – from club boss John Comitis to club captain Manyama – that the others grab the baton and run, with energy, enthusiasm and absolute commitment.
As they always say, leadership is not just a position, it is action. And, in Manyama, City have a captain of action; in classic superhero terms, he’s Captain Marvellous, Captain Fantastic.