Former Ajax Cape Town stalwart BRENT CARELSE reflects on a lengthy professional career and what kept him at the top.
I am getting close to the end of my playing career, and it’s been an amazing journey. I never thought I would one day look back on a career that included time spent with Ajax Cape Town, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, and five Absa Premiership titles.
I have scored goals, created chances, gone past some of the best defenders, played through-balls to some of the best teammates and been coached by some of the finest coaches to have worked in local professional football. So, trust me when I say I have seen a lot.
I am often asked the question, ‘How did you make it?’ It seems like a simple enough question but the answer isn’t that simple. There are some who have made it because they have skill or talent. There are some who have made it because they got lucky – they were in the right place at the right time. There are others who have made it because they had a combination
of a bit of skill, hard work and luck. But after all my time playing, training and learning about the game of professional football, the one characteristic I would say is vital if you want to make it, and then keep making it – because getting there is actually the easy part, but staying at the top for more than 10 years is a lot harder – is desire.
Desire is the will to improve; the will to do what is necessary to make it. If that means training harder, or longer, or doing extra, then that is what I will do. If it is necessary to be disciplined, and stop your bad habits, like drinking or smoking or staying out late at night and going to nightclubs, then that is what I will do.
Desire goes hand-in-hand with willpower. It starts when you are young. My friends would all be going out to a party on a Thursday night and I would want to go with them and be part of the fun, but my willpower and my desire to be at the
top of my game on the Saturday meant I would stay at home and miss out on their fun. It wasn’t about anyone else
– it was my focus that I would work hard and would walk away after the session knowing I had learned something new
or improved something about the way I played the game.
While you are sitting at home reading this, someone else is training. While you are at a nightclub, someone else is in the gym. When will you make a decision to improve yourself? So my answer to that simple question, ‘How did you make it?’
is not a simple one.
I had the desire to improve, and to make something of my talent. I had the commitment to the game, to working hard and to being disciplined. And I had the willpower to avoid temptations and distractions, and focus on what I needed
to do to be a better player.
– Brent Carelse is an ambassador for Football4All, a grassroots coaching programme managed by former players.
– This article first appeared in issue 69 of SoccerClub magazine.