Being the first one to get a real break and chance of unshackling his family from the ties of poverty is what drives Kaizer Chiefs’ young defender, Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya to work extra hard everyday to ensure he doesn’t lose the opportunity Amakhosi have afforded him.
Ntiya-Ntiya comes from what many would call a typical rural family in Bizana where one household can easily have 15-20 members with no real source of income. So at 22, Ntiya-Ntiya has had to step up because he was given a golden opportunity that can ensure a better life for his family if he uses it correctly.
“When the team trains twice, I train three times. I believe it is all about hard work in this career,” he said about having become a regular in the senior team at only 22.
Asked what makes him different from his peers who are easily blinded by the sudden fame that comes with playing for Chiefs, Ntiya-Ntiya cited his poor background as his motivation.
“I think it has to do with my background… you know where I come from… eish. It’s not easy. I come from one of the rural areas in the Eastern Cape. I know what I have (with this career) and that if I lose it, I would have lost everything. So I try by all means to hold on to it for as long as I can.
“I come from an extended family and not all of them work. I can say they are dependent upon me for a better life. So I know that if I lose this career, I would be losing everything. It would disappoint my family and a whole lot of other people back home.
“That is why I am trying to stay disciplined and trying by all means to work hard all the time.”
So many youngsters were given the same opportunity at Amakhosi and other big clubs like Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns but got side-tracked by the sudden fame and fortune, but Ntiya-Ntiya is different.
“I can’t really say I have learnt from anyone else’s mistakes. My motivation is my family. Youngsters have come and gone in this team. Most don’t stay that long. That’s what makes me work hard to stay here,” he said.
And having joined Chiefs at the time when the team were battling to fill the void left by Tsepo Masilela, the youngster always carries the heavy burden of being compared to the former Bafana Bafana left back. He, however, takes the constant, but sometimes unwarranted criticism on the chin.
“Fans will always be fans you know,” he says. “But at the end of the day there is not a single player who gets onto the field wanting to do badly for the team. We always want to strive to do better. Comparing players is not fair, we are all individuals.”
One thing that still keeps Ntiya-Ntiya awake at night is that he is in his third season with the senior team but he is yet to get a winners’ medal.
“It is a must for us to change things around because it has been dry. It has been four seasons now without anything. I have also not won anything with the club, so I need to win something with them.
“I am a little disappointed that I haven’t won anything yet and at the same time I understand these things happen in football. But the ambition is to win everything on offer.”