A few years ago I left the agency that taught me everything I know about Public Relations and nurtured my other talents. I felt ready to fly and do my own thing. I started a smaller Communications agency in Saxonwold. This is where I would meet Mpho Makola, who would become a friend; a fine, quiet man (with a connecting beard) who was then playing for Orlando Pirates.
Very charming, kind and always looks camera-ready. Mpho describes himself as “calm and shy”. He doesn’t speak much around people he isn’t familiar with. Everyone who knows him will attest to this.
A father to two beautiful boys; Molemo and Milani, Mpho left Pirates for Cape Town City and after a few years in the Mother City, he has now signed with Polokwane City. He describes the transition of moving from one team to another as a bit difficult,
“I moved from Johannesburg which is a very busy city to Cape Town which is more subtle and now Polokwane. I think as a player you need to adjust as quickly as possible to these conditions and be ready for it mentally.”
When he started playing football, he never really looked at anyone as a source of inspiration. It’s something that he was just born with. “The minute I realised that I was actually talented and I could go far with it, I just got inspired by that alone to keep going, nurture the talent and nourish it and see how far I could go.
“I have two children and because at times football can be really challenging, I would often feel like giving up. I would look at my kids and draw inspiration from them.” Mpho is also very grateful for his mother and her fervent prayers for him. He also pays homage to his partner and his fans who have been there for him in every season of his life. “One thing that has kept me going mostly is prayer and believing that everything in life happens for a reason.”
As one of the respected soccer stars in the country, Mpho has his favorite players, the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns’ Themba “Mshishi” Zwane, Bradley “Surprise” Ralani and Neo Maema, Cape Town City’s Jaedin Rhodes, Orlando Pirates’ Miguel Timm,
I ask Mpho about his time at Cape Town City following his widely reported unceremonious departure and he has nothing negative to say. He describes his time with the football club as “the best stay”. He joined the club on a high as he was already doing well in his career, following a successful run with the Buccaneers. Cape Town made him realize that life doesn’t give room for one to be comfortable, there was a time where he hit rock bottom and he would be hard on himself.
Being at Cape Town City also taught him to appreciate hard work. “You don’t really need to have a team of 100 people in order to run a team successfully. Especially considering the lack of infrastructure, monetary sponsorships but we still kept it going as a family. It was very fruitful and I still keep in touch with the friends and great people that I met there.”
From his time at Cape Town City, the Alex lad built a stronger bond with Ralani, Mduduzi Mdantsane and Thamsanqa Mkhize among others. “I was quite close to the whole team and the coaches as well. Even the people at finances and cleaners also…”
Fatherhood has taught him to take life seriously, make better choices and be an even better man. “I have had to learn to realign my life and start being very responsible because now I’ve got two people whom I need to take care of. Before I go to bed or when I wake up, they’re the first people that I think of.” He admits that he had to make conscious lifestyle changes and he is grateful for that.
He hopes that his boys will pursue their dreams, in whatever path they choose without having to worry about making an impression on anyone. He also sees the upside of failure as good to build one’s character. He wants them to embrace failure just as much as they will embrace the wins. He has high hopes for them but trusts them to grow into themselves and make better choices and live their full potential as he facilitates their growth.
When asked about what he would say to a teenage Mpho, he says he would put himself first and go after what he wants without holding back. He would not feel so bad about not being able to help others when he couldn’t. He also believes if he had the self-awareness he has now, he would have made much better life decisions and embraced his traditions and appreciate the effort he put into his work a lot more. “I would have told young Mpho to invest in knowing yourself and your roots, embrace your traditions and trust yourself a lot more.”
How has love nourished Mpho?
“A lot of men weren’t raised by love so it makes it hard for them when they are older to actually show love and appreciation for the next person or themselves. Learn to love yourself and when you know what love is, you’ll be able to show people love with pure intentions. I’m not saying I’m a soft person but I understand that love is gentle. I approach everyone with kindness and gentleness. If we can just show some love to one another, the world would be a better place.”
Raised by a single mother, he learned a lot from her and his grandmother. The biggest lesson was humility and kindness. He believes that humility and kindness are often rewarded with grace from the Source.
“I’ve always been around people who were grounded. People who got everything going right in their lives but still remained humble and with that, I learnt to treat the highest person in the room with the same respect as I treat the “lowest” person in the room.” he says.
When he isn’t a doting father to his adorable boys, or on the pitch, he enjoys listening to music and AmaPiano are right up his alley as well as the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Jhene Aiko and some feel good tunes.
A supporter of local brands, some of his favorites are Wethu, Mbangi Threads and Bathu footwear. We couldn’t agree more!
His advice to aspiring football stars is to stay true to themselves, figure out their strongest attributes as athletes and finesse that. “I’m not gonna say work hard or stay disciplined because you can only tell people to do this and that but things always work out differently. With that said, find the right balance and everything will fall into place. Remain humble and don’t let the hunger die, the universe will definitely answer.”