Players Abroad is the Soccer Laduma Radio show where we connect you with the South African footballers playing in foreign leagues.
In each episode, we connect with South African footballers who are plying their trade overseas. They tell us about the country, the culture, the fans and more. We also hear what they’ve been missing most about Mzansi.
“I Was Told To Consider A Career Outside Football”- Darren Smith
During his early years as a footballer in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), Darren Smith became a journeyman and moved between clubs frequently, playing for the likes of Amazulu, Stellenbosch FC, and SuperSport United. After failing to establish himself in any local side, Smith persevered and earned his opportunity in the Ykkönen (Finland’s second division), where he enjoyed a breakout season, scoring 18 goals in 22 league appearances to win the Golden Boot award, while also being crowned Best Striker of the Season and Player of the Season.
In the latest episode of the SL Podcast’s “Player Abroad”, Smith discusses his early career struggles in the PSL and how he managed to earn a move to Finland against all odds. The 24-year-old striker also speaks candidly about how a particular PSL club CEO told him to give up on his football dream and consider a different path, and how his belief in himself and God helped him maintain focus on goal. In the full show, he also discusses his new team FC Honka and the opportunity to play in the Veikkausliiga (Finland’s top division) and the newly-formed UEFA Europa Conference League when he starts his next campaign abroad.
One SA youngster’s Tokyo Olympics Dream
Former Stellenbosch FC & SuperSport United youth Luke Le Roux has been quietly earning his stripes, earning 23 appearances (and 20 starts) during the 2020 season of Sweden’s top tier, the Allsvenskan. The 20-year-old is back in South Africa due to a work permit issue, but with his side having already secured their top flight status for next year’s campaign, he has his sights set on next year. The central midfielder has dreams of making the South Africa u23 side which will travel to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics. Having been left out of last year’s preliminary squad for the tournament, he’ll have a second chance due to the postponement of the games which was caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the latest episode of the SL Podcast’s “Players Abroad”, Le Roux discusses the 2020 Allsvenskan campaign and the importance of getting game time to earn experience and build his confidence. He also opens up about his ambitions to earn a spot in David Notoane’s South Africa u23 squad when they travel to Tokyo, Japan for this year’s Olympic games. Le Roux also discusses the added benefit of having fellow SA youngsters Tashreeq Matthews and Keanin Ayer with him in the Varberg Bois squad.
Bantu Mzwakali On The Physicality Of Swedish Football
Bantu Mzwakali shares his experiences of life as a footballer in Sweden from the physicality of the league, to be unable to see his family due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From ABC Motsepe League To Big European Dreams
Promising midfielder Kgotso Masangane has taken a relatively unconventional journey to European leagues, making the leap from ABC Motsepe League outfit FC Zone Mavo, to unfamiliar territory in the Latvian Higher League with FK Metta. In his first season with the club in 2019, his performances were so impressive that he earned Metta’s Player of the Season Award.
Speaking on SL Radio’s Players Abroad podcast, the 22-Year-Old midfielder discussed how while misses home, his next goal would be to join a larger club, stating “For me, a move in Europe, for a bigger team, would be a great move.” Discussing the system at his current team, he praised the coach’s faith in younger talent, continuing, “For FK Metta, the coach loves to introduce young players most of the time. [It’s] his philosophy, he believes in young players not experienced players.”
Former Amazulu Star Is Finished With Finnish Food
South African players have managed to find success in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Finland & Denmark. Examples include Sibusiso Zuma and Josta Dladla. While the football can be quite enjoyable in Northern Europe, the change of scenery, culture & cuisine can be quite jarring for players. This is the case for Ayabulela Konqobe, a former Amazulu star who is having a stellar season for Ekenäs IF in Finland.
Speaking on SL Radio’s Players Abroad podcast, the 24-year-old midfielder discussed how he misses South African food; “I can’t eat this man. I think on the third or fourth day of eating Finnish food, I was like ‘Nah, I can’t have this anymore’. I was literally just having buns and cheese and ham the whole time until my friend started cooking because we both couldn’t handle it."
'Seeing My Son Would Make My Year'
Former Orlando Pirates & Kaizer Chiefs youth player Mihlali Mayambela has just completed his loan spell with Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv F.C. in Israel and will return to his parent club SC Farense in Portugal. There he will compete for a place in Coach Jorge Paixao's side. The team have just been promoted to the top flight of Portuguese football.
Speaking on SL Radio’s Players Abroad podcast, Mayambela revealed some of the struggles he’s experienced in the second half of the season, including his injury and missing home;
“The main focus is on the injury, I didn’t heal properly because of the coronavirus, so now I’m trying my best to get the best treatment and get back to playing football.”
When asked if there was something his older brother Mark could send to him in Portugal, Mayambela spoke candidly about his family, stating “maybe if he could sneak in my son, so I could see him. My son and himself, that would do me good for the year.”