Bapela took over the reins at the club earlier this year having spent 2016 away from the coaching bench.
He was previously involved in Sundowns’ technical team as a scout, before working alongside Pitso Mosimane as an assistant coach and an analyst, a role the former Brazilians star clearly enjoyed.
Bapela eventually ended his relationship with the Pretoria giants after leading the team’s development side to the final of the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, because he wanted to pursue a career in coaching away from the development structures of a club.
“I feel that when you coach the development side, you don’t grow. I want to coach the first team,” Bapela said.
“I scouted players such as Themba Zwane. I was analysing the game of the opposition, taking note of their next opponents to help them prepare. We went on to win the league in the 2013/2014 season. Pitso was away from time to time because of his coaching studies, I learned a lot from that guy, he left me in charge of the team, at times allowed me to use my own discretion,” added Bapela.
Armed with a coaching licence and a teaching degree, the former Dynamos assistant coach found a way to beat Free State Stars and Baroka FC in off-season friendlies two weeks ago in Johannesburg.
Bapela enjoys working with young players, but it’s difficult to guide them off the field regarding their choices on which team to play for or on signing a contract with a bigger club in the top league.
“They listen to you when they are still under your care, playing for your team, (but) when a big team comes knocking they don’t listen to you, they even avoid you. The salaries these boys are earning when they get to the big teams are scary.
“The players are abused in the teams. You can’t help them because they have already signed, but are not given copies of their contract at times. You warn them about this, but once they are there your advice is out the window,” said Bapela.
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