Thandisizwe Matebese is the ultimate fan of MARU; in fact, he’s one of the founding members of the soccer club. His cheers could be heard above the din of the crowd throughout the game, and he grew emotional as he spoke. “We won the last season,” he said. “I think again we’re going to take the money. But it’s not all about the money. It’s the spirit. What we try to do, we try to bring the Makhanda people together. You see that’s the whole point. MARU’s trying to bring the Makhanda people together.”
The inside of Siyanda Mphelo's home in Extension 6 in Makhanda, South Africa.
MARU’s coach, Bongani Lombo, received “best coach” accolades for the tournament. Lombo and his team have won the tournament two of the three years Lombo has served as coach, and even with a winning record, victory never gets old. “The feeling is very overwhelming,” he said after the game. “It was a very tough game. We knew it was not going to be an easy game, but eventually we won.”
Ayabulela Bholoti, team captain for MARU, echoed his coach’s sentiments. “It means a lot because it puts Makhanda up in the ranks,” he said. “Everyone is proud of what is happening and what has been done by MARU.”
As the crowd began to clear out, the entourage found one more way to celebrate: When Lombo and Bholoti least expected it, their fans crept up behind them and sprayed them down with champagne,.
And then the cheering started all over again.