JOHANNESBURG - Justin Shonga's past will ensure that he doesn’t stray like many footballers who were swallowed up by the attention.
The 21-year-old is not only a striker for Orlando Pirates but he is also a member of the Zambian police service.
“The police in Zambia have police teams,” Shonga said. “So, I went through those teams (Nkwazi). A lot of players who play for police clubs are given employment in government in Zambia. That life (as a police officer) was a different environment and different lifestyle. It changes you. It’s different than being a civilian.
"The discipline needed to be a policeman has helped me a lot. It brought me this far because football requires discipline and hard work. For you to be a policeman, you have to train well, work hard and be disciplined. I think that background will ensure that I don’t stray but remain a disciplined man who works hard to achieve his objective.”
The Shonga household - with eight children, six boys and three girls - found it easy to accept Justin enlisting as a police officer because his two older brothers did it before him. Football is also another thing that runs in the family. Shonga, Justin Shonga jun, if you’re being formal, is named after his father, Justin Shonga snr, who played for Zambian giants Zesco United.
“I had a dream of playing for Zesco, just like my father,” Shonga said. “It never materialised. Zesco wanted me to sign at some point. But I was under the police and the authorities couldn’t allow me to join them.
"I might not have been able to follow in my father’s footsteps by playing for Zesco but I have managed to do something even bigger, playing for one of the biggest clubs in Africa ... I am enjoying my time here and being in this environment is helping me grow because every big club anywhere in the world is judged by results and we are getting them at the moment.”
Congratulations to @orlandopirates striker, Justin Shonga for winning the #AbsaPrem Goal of the Month Award.
Here is a recap of the Goal YOU voted as the best in February 2018 pic.twitter.com/ygm78JT0Y7
The Buccaneers will look to continue getting those results on Wednesday night in their Absa Premiership clash with SuperSport United in Mbombela. The last time Pirates took on Matsatsantsa a Pitori in Mbombela in the league they were thumped 6-1.
Micho Sredojevic dismantled everything from that season to build a puzzle more appealing to the eye. The picture is not complete just yet but it’s starting to take shape. SuperSport on the other hand have gone from a mosaic that reached the Caf Confederation Cup final to a scrambled mess that’s fighting relegation.
They will come into this match without the suspended Morgan Gould and on the back of a taxing 1-0 loss to Gor Mahia on Sunday in the first leg of the Confederation Cup play-offs in Nairobi. If SuperSport aren’t careful, they are the ones who can get six. The Buccaneers have scored 13 goals in their last five matches which all ended in victory for the Sea Robbers.
“It takes love (to get our attack this good),” Shonga said. “We understand each other. We joke. But when it comes to work, we work. We talk to each other in a good and polite manner. When one is telling you something, you even feel it that this one is telling me this as a brother. It’s nice. I think that will be key in us achieving bigger and better things.”