Not many would know what exactly drives Kaizer Chiefs reserves coach Vela Khumalo when you look at him on the touchline, guiding his charges.
Khumalo, however, is someone who is deeply passionate about education since he is a principal in a school around Gauteng.
To strike a balance between education and football has always been something South African players have struggled with – especially male soccer players who can go on to end up with nothing to fall back on once their football careers are over.
To this extent, having someone like Khumalo must be a blessing for the Chiefs development structures – – a man who will stress the importance of taking your studies as seriously as you take your football career.
The importance of having an education is something that Khumalo realised whilst he was still pursuing a playing career until a failed spell abroad.
“I started playing football when I was very young, I think since the age of seven, football has been my first love as a boy born in Kroonstad in the Free State,” Khumalo reveals.
“I grew up in QwaQwa, where I (also) spent most of my life. Growing up on that side was good, but we endured cold weather a lot. But I learnt almost everything there until I left 17 years ago, going to Johannesburg.
“I played for Free State Stars and I was chosen as one of the few players to go play overseas while I was at Tshiya college, but that move ended up not materialising. So I learned my lesson to trust education more than football. I studied up to University (level) in QwaQwa and I became a teacher before being promoted and became a vice principal, an acting principal and so forth.”
A holder of all Caf coaching licenses from D to A, Khumalo has dedicated his life to education, football and family, with two kids and a wife.
The love for books is something that runs in the family, having met his wife back during their college days – she is also a teacher. Khumalo admits that he barely has time for anything else, except for these three important things. And he says it gets harder when he has to attend national duty as the head of Amajimbos (SA Under-17).
“Education never disappoints. In the morning I start at school and in the afternoon I go for training with the boys. My biggest challenge is when I have to leave both school and Chiefs in order to attend the national team – as you know I’m a national team coach. It only gets hectic then. I don’t really have spare time as I’m always between school, Chiefs and the national team,” he continues.
“I have two kids, a boy who is 19-years old and a girl who is 12-years old. They are both at my school and my wife is also a teacher having met her at college. We are still going strong in our marriage. One thing about my family is that I always make sure that I get as much time as I can with them and also make sure that I am there for them.”
“I’m now 45-years old and I have been in education for over 20 years. And I have to admit, education has been something very close to me as much as football has been. I have managed to strike a balance between the two.
“Hence I always make sure that my players are always up-to-date with their school and even in national team camps, I encourage the players to bring their books and study. We all know that soccer is a short-career and we will make sure that our youngsters have an educational background, it is vital for their lives.”