“I received a call from SAFA through the Football Manager (Bobby Motaung),” says Arthur Zwane about his call up to Bafana Bafana as assistant coach. “It was unexpected but when such opportunities are presented to you, you embrace and honour the invitation with both hands. When the country calls you to serve, there are no two ways about it. It is nothing but a dream come true for me.”
Zwane was called up to serve as Bafana Bafana’s assistant coach for the abandoned International friendly match against Zambia. The match was billed to take place in Lusaka on Saturday but was called off due to xenophobic violence that engulfed South Africa last week.
“It is a career changing and breakthrough moment for me as a coach. It is good for Kaizer Chiefs as a club to have coaches that have the ability to support the national team. While I was still playing, I didn’t think I would be a coach one day,” adds Zwane.
“While growing up in Meadowlands, I was approached by the local youngsters to assist them with coaching their team,” recollects the soft spoken Zwane. “These youngsters were involved in playing in the local tournaments. They were not so organised, but I was able to bring a level of structure.
“Discipline was the first step in my talk with them. I addressed with them issues of alcohol and substance abuse. They responded well and started to become more committed and dedicated to their game.”
Zwane joined Chiefs as a player in 2000 and retired in 2010. He became the senior team’s assistant coach between 2010 and 2012.
“I’ve was involved with Meadowlands Galatasaray while still playing here at Chiefs,” continues the man who was affectionately known as ‘10111’ in his playing days – the name you still hear whenever Zwane appears in public. “I always applied all what I was learning as a Chiefs player to the youngsters. We were winning tournaments. I recall the Discovery Tournament which we dominated over a period of four years. All this happened between 2001 and 2007.”
Zwane is currently Kaizer Chiefs’ Reserve Team coach and is being revered by many as one for the future.
On his arrival at the Bafana camp as assistant coach he says: “I was welcomed warmly at the national team. I have had constant contact with coach Molefi Ntseki dating back from 2013. We have been sharing ideas since and got to a solid level of understanding over the years.”
Zwane has been busy behind the desk upgrading his coaching qualification. He completed his B and A Licenses both with CAF. He recently acquired UEFA B Licence which he attended in Ireland.
Zwane was not in unfamiliar territory in the national team. As a player, he represented Bafana Bafana at least nine times. He has also worked with some of the players who were selected for the camp.
“A player like Lebohang Maboe played for us here at Chiefs Academy. Then there is Thulani Hlatshwayo and Thulani Serero whom I have known from early days in their careers while still playing in the dusty streets of Soweto. There was Reyaad Pieterse and Keagan Dolly whom I first met through the Nike youth projects.
“We held good practice sessions. I immediately observed the wealth of talent we have in this country,” he adds.
On the Football Association of Zambia’s decision to call off their match against Bafana Bafana, he laments: “It was heartbreaking to receive the news that our International Friendly match against Zambia was called off due to xenophobic riots. I wish for sanity to prevail and things to get back to normality. We need to unite as Africans.”
A replacement match was organized SAFA but the relief was short lived. “We got a reprieve when we heard that we have a replacement match against Madagascar,” says Zwane. “It felt like a second blow to get the news that Madagascar too had pulled out of the match. But we have faith that everything happens for a reason.”
Zwane says he is thankful for the experience. “I am glad to have had a period of serving the country,” concludes Zwane. “Any form of international exposure gained is appreciated. I observed the mammoth task for National Team coaches and technical team to coordinate and prepare a team in a week. It was great to see the way the players responded and interacted with the coach. I am grateful for the opportunity and appreciate the support from everyone.”