JOHANNESBURG – A year ago, exciting Platinum Stars midfielder Katlego Otladisa felt out of place despite moving closer to realising his dream.
“I joined Platinum Stars’ ABC Motsepe League team last year in September after spending seven years at (amateur club) Atletico FC, where I was groomed and refined as a player,” Otladisa said.
“But I felt I was ready to be in their first team and not in the ABC Motsepe League. I took it in my stride and said that I’ll show them I am ready and was promoted to the first team the following year.
“I am just a confident person who believes in his talent. Even my captain, Vuyo Mere, told me I was ready and that motivated me to do well.”
The 21-year-old from Rustenburg made his debut for Dikwena against Mamelodi Sundowns in front of his home crowd in Phokeng, but announced himself last Friday against Maritzburg United in the Telkom Knockout last 16.
Otladisa ran circles around the Team of Choice’s defence that struggled to contain him, resorting to illegally stopping the skilful, speedy winger.
His night was made more special with Dikwena advancing through penalties to set up a meeting with Bloemfontein Celtic this afternoon at Royal Bafokeng Sport Palace in the quarter-finals.
“The response from that match was overwhelming. I couldn’t even respond to all the congratulatory messages I received,” he said. “Now that people know me, I have to really show them what I am about because that was just a start.”
But South Africa almost didn’t see his talent, with his family pushing him to focus on school rather than football.
“I had to negotiate with them,” Otladisa said.
“I begged my parents by telling them that this is my life. They understood but there was a clause attached to it, that I mustn’t forget about school.
“I am looking at furthering my studies after I have settled at Platinum Stars. I want to study Business Management because me and numbers are good together. I also want to uplift other people and support my family.”
Football runs in the family. Katlego – the last born in a family of six boys and one girl – is not only living his dream but that of his siblings and his father too. Three of his brothers came close to making it professionally while his father, who was born in Botswana, also played the sport.
“I’ve heard stories that he was very good and I take a lot after him,” Otladisa said.
“He didn’t have a lot of opportunities to turn pro in his days.
“I am doing this not just for me, but also for him and my family. He has been a good source of support and even gave me his name, James, as my middle name. I feel honoured by that because I am the last born and he has other sons he could have given it to.”
Otladisa, though, couldn’t have chosen a more difficult time to be with Stars. The Phokeng club is up for sale, sits at the bottom of the Absa Premiership standings, and fired coach Peter Butler after two league games.
“Difficult times test your mental strength,” Otladisa said. “You come out of that a stronger person. I believe this is also preparing me for the future. I am strong enough to handle it.”