While spending many years kicking a self made soccer ball on the uneven, dusty fields of Thokwaneng Village outside Lebowakgomo, former Baroka Football Club Captain Gift Motupa never thought that one day he would travel the world representing his country on the soccer field
For Motupa (20) this journey began at Manchester United, a local club at Thokwangeng Village when he was still 13.
During an impressive run at a local Festive Season tournament in 2008, he caught the eye of Baroka FC owner Khurishi Mphahlele who signed him for his team in 2009. “I vividly remember the day. We had just finished playing and Mphahlele approached me and said he would like to see me playing for his team. The team was still in the third division by then. I was nervous, but after a couple of training sessions and matches I gelled well with all the players and we became a unit,” Motupa said.
He was part of the Baroka team that beat South African soccer giants Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows in the 2011 Nedbank Cup at Peter Mokaba Stadium.
“Those were exciting times. I never thought that a team from rural Ga-Mphahlele could ever beat teams like Chiefs and Swallows in a big tournament such as the Nedbank Cup. That is an experience that I will cherish forever because it built me and also encouraged me to be more competitive. Sometimes we are scared of the profile of the team and we forget that it is 11 against 11 in the field of play. I believe once we dispel that mentality plenty of small teams can upset big teams,” Motupa stated.
Following the departure of their captain, Lentshene Phalane to Platinum Stars in 2012, the management of Baroka FC gave him the responsibility to captain the team.
During his tenure as the captain of the team, Motupa was the team leading goal scorer with 15 goals.
It was his goal poaching abilities that caught the eye of the Bafana Bafana coach, Shakes Mashaba and Orlando Pirates where he recently signed a five-year deal. “I am still in dreamland I never thought I will be where I am today. I am from a family of soccer loving people. My father and my brother played soccer in their days and they could not make it far. To play for Orlando Pirates, one of the biggest teams in Africa, and to represent the national team is a dream come true for me and the whole family,” Motupa declared.
Asked about his goal at Orlando Pirates, he said his ultimate goal is to help Pirates to win the league, major local cup tournaments and Orange CAF Confederation Cup tournament. “I want to add value to the team. I never won any major silverware with any team and I think it is time,” Motupa said.
Mutupa was also instrumental in helping Bafana Bafana to beat Mauritius and Gambia in the recent 2016 African Cup of Nations qualifiers. “I always cherish every national call up, be it a friendly match or cup matches. It is great to be called to represent your country and it very important for one to do well if given the opportunity,” Motupa said.
Motupa, who recently completed his Electrical Engineering course at Jeppe College in Polokwane, said he was proud to be in the list with Hlompho Kekana, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, and Tefu Mashamaite who are some of the players from the province to represent the national team.
“Those are the players that I looked up to when I was growing up. They are also a pillar of hope to other aspiring soccer from rural viallages. Ramahlwe does not live far from where I come from and one thing I know is that we did not have resources. There are no proper sport facilities in Ga Mphahlele and surrounding areas but he made it to the top on his own. This says to me that through hard work and determination we achieve anything.”