Kenneth Nthatheni: Language barrier cost me Orlando Pirates deal


The Limpopo-born midfielder tells the story of how he turned down Mamelodi Sundowns in an attempt to earn a first-team contract with Pirates – a plan that ended after six months.

"I went for trials at Makwarela Stadium for an under-21 tournament in Limpopo against other provinces, we had to play against Gauteng," says Nthatheni.

"Mamelodi Sundowns wanted me but I refused because my dream was to play in the PSL and Pirates came with a better offer, promising me a first-team contract while Sundowns wanted me for their development squad."

The 24-year-old says things got tougher at Pirates as he was struggling to communicate with the team and was homesick, which affected his peformances.

"In 2016 I then went for pre-season with Pirates' MultiChoice Diski side. That time it was the first for me at professional level. I had to adjust myself and was the only Venda person in the team," he recalls.

"I had to make sure I understood other languages in order for me to cope so that I could get a contract, but it was hard for me to play because I was always alone in my room thinking about home.

"Because I used to play with people that understood my own language, Pirates decided to release us in December 2016."

After losing his chance at Pirates, Nthatheni eventually got his next opportunity at Rise and Shine, where he had to start in the development side and climb the ladder again.

"I was at home for six months with no team then Coach Bayona Moloto called me to come over for a trial at the new Peter Mokaba Stadium," he says.

"Then the coach told me I have to stay and train with the team. I then got a contract with Polokwane City's development team before joining the senior side."

Since signing for Polokwane City at the start of the season, Nthatheni has made 10 appearances for the senior team.