BY FORTUNE MBELE
FOR Bekithemba Ndlovu, his new coaching role at Bulawayo football giants Highlanders is the next best thing to playing for his boyhood club.
The 42 year-old Ndlovu, who won a number of championships and trophies as a player, made a return to Bosso last month as one of coach Madinda Ndlovu’s assistants in a move which was met with optimism by the club’s fans.
Ndlovu is in his second stint as an assistant coach at Bosso having served in a similar capacity under Zambian mentor Kelvin Kaindu in 2012.
In between, the former Warriors roving right-back had coaching stints at Division One side Indlovu Iyanyathela, former Premiership side How Mine and most recently with relegated Bulawayo City.
Ndlovu is also the current national Under-20 coach and in December last year led the Young Warriors to the final of the Cosafa Under-20 Championship, where they eventually lost to South Africa 4-3 in a penalty shootout in Zambia.
Super, or Beke, as Ndlovu is affectionately known by the Bosso faithful, has very fond memories of his first coaching experience at the club under Kaindu.
“The last time I was at the club assisting Kaindu, we worked very well with everyone and the results showed. It was the major highlight of my coaching career, winning silver two years on the trot although it was also disappointing because I would have been happier if we had won the championship,” Ndlovu told The Sport Hub in an exclusive interview on Friday.
During Ndlovu’s first coaching stint at the club, the Bulawayo giants were runners-up to then champions Dynamos in 2012, coming short on goal difference after both teams finished the campaign on 66 points.
It was to be the same story in 2013 when the Harare giants won the league title with the two clubs on 54 points.
Ndlovu left Highlanders the following year when the club parted ways with Kaindu, but last month he retraced his footsteps to his boyhood club, this time as assistant to Madinda.
He believes the experience he has gained will add value to the club as it seeks to recapture its glory days having last won the title over a decade ago, under the guidance of former player Methembe Ndlovu.
“I believe the experience that I have gathered over the years, will add value to the club. I will also learn a lot from Madinda, who is a good coach. I believe we now have a very strong technical team at Highlanders, a broad thinktank that will help the club a lot,” Super said.
He reckons that having played for the Highlanders juniors up to the senior team, it will be easy for him to fit in and inculcate the club’s culture to the young players from the junior structures upwards.
“It is very good that the club is going back to its culture and me being around it will not be very difficult for the boys to play in the club’s system. The juniors must feel they are part of the team when we go around watching their matches and monitoring them as they grow in the system,” Super said.
He finds his son Nkosana and his younger brother Mbongeni who last year made a name for himself in the senior team coming from the Highlanders juniors.
As a player, he featured for the Warriors in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004 under Sunday Chidzambga and in 2006 under Charles Mhlauri.
In addition to his successful career with Highlanders, Ndlovu also had stints at South African clubs Moroka Swallows, Platinum Stars and Mpumalanga Black Aces before returning home to join Bantu Rovers in 2009 and winding up his playing career with Highlanders in 2011.
Ndlovu says he was encouraged by the Highlanders leadership to hang his boots and venture into coaching when he still wanted to continue playing.
He retired from playing in 2011 at the age of 35 before heading into coaching as assistant to Kaindu, who also urged him to take up the role of player/coach.
“I came back from South Africa and played for my boyhood club Highlanders and I was captain in 2011 under (Mohamed) Fathi and the club executive committee especially (Andrew) Tapela (then club secretary) encouraged me to go into coaching. I still wanted to play football, but the leadership said they wanted to groom me into a coach. I assisted Kaindu in the first team in 2012 and the head coach as well said I could coach and play. That was the time that I decided to retire from playing,” Ndlovu said.