JOHANNESBURG – Though they don’t share the same mother, both Aubrey Modiba and Nedbank Ke Yona team hopeful Justin Modiba grew up like as if they were born from the same womb.
Their mothers, who were siblings, liked dressing them up in matching outfits. The pair went to the same school, played for the same amateur side (Hungry Lions FC) in Polokwane, and got into fights whenever the other 'brother' was in trouble.
Justin brags of being the outspoken and bullish one, as compare to his cousin/brother, Aubrey, who was more soft spoken.
The versatile SuperSport United player preferred to have his deeds to do all the talking on his behalf.
And whenever these two weren’t caught up in unnecessary boyhood quarrels with other kids in the neighbourhood of Mentz Village, Limpopo, they would put in the required effort in training in pursuit of escaping an environment they both dared they wouldn’t let it define them, or who they were meant to become in the future.
Both Aubrey and Justin wanted to become professional footballers. It is Justin though, who got distracted along the way.
Justin’s mother passed on when he was just 12-years-old. The player gradually lost interest in the game, as he continued to deal with the grief. It was only after Justin came to Johannesburg to finish high school that his fire for the beautiful game got rekindled.
Justin, who’s drafted to go for a month’s trial with Maritzburg United after Sunday’s Nedbank Ke Yona Challenge match against SuperSport at Makhulong Stadium (kickoff 3.30pm), is hoping not to let his fire fade out like he did this time.
He believes that this is now his time.
“I played for Jomo Cosmos’ under-19 right after I moved to Johannesburg to get myself back into the game,” Justin says. “Aubrey had left home to be part of the School of Excellence setup a while before, and was gradually climbing his way up (into the professional scene).
“Seeing him flourishing this much in his respective career it’s so inspiring,” he adds.
“I want that for my life, too. He was the one who told me to join this Nedbank Ke Yona team search initiative and I’m just surprised, as I am grateful, that I made the final cut. Now I want to go even further. I’m really hungry for this chance.”
Like Aubrey, Justin can play three different positions. While Aubrey can double up as left-back, left-wing and central-defensive midfielder, Justin can play as a right wing, right-back, and central attacking midfielder as well.
Justin is crossing fingers they play his 'brother' at left back tomorrow. He says he wants to run him ragged for the entire 90 minutes.
Aubrey, though, doesn’t know in which position his coach would have him play, and said his focus was beyond the 90 minutes.
As in his amateur days in Limpopo, where he had nothing but his dreams and the hope that he would one day make it, the 22-year-old Under-23 international is also hoping he would one day earn that dream move.
“I still have that ambition, really,” Modiba says.
“When Mandla Masango was here on loan from Danish side, Randers FC, I made a point to learn as much as I could from him.
“Whenever I had a bad game, he would walk up to me and offer me valuable advice.
“And whenever I showed glimpses of brilliance in a match, he wouldn’t shy away from telling me I played well, and that I had the potential to one day earn a move abroad. And that’s what I want for my career.”