by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – THE beautiful game is familiar with sad tale of players who lurch into destitution after their careers come to an end.
Highlands Park Football Club goalkeeper, Tapuwa Kapini, is determined to beat the trend and ensure he has something to fall back on when he eventually hangs his gloves.
In a somewhat unorthodox investment, the Zimbabwean international has made a foray into the motor mechanics industry as he reaches the twilight years of his footballing career.
The towering goal minder is intensifying investments into his motor workshop situated in Kemptom Park in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.
Kapini narrated how he ventured into a territory that is largely unfamiliar with players when considering investments for when the final whistle blows on their careers.
“It all began when my vehicle (brand supplied but withheld) developed a mechanical problem. When I took it to the garage for repair, I could not believe the more than R20, 000 bill I was slapped with,” he recounted in an interview.
“During the same period, a fellow countryman, who worked at a local motor workshop as a mechanic had his company closing down due to viability challenges. So, we decided to team-up to try save him from being jobless since he had professional qualification in the line of business,” the ex-Zimbabwe international added.
This gave birth to the now-famous TREC Motor Workshop, which has grown on to employ five individuals, including locals.
The motor workshop established in 2015 derives its name from the founding co-directors’ initial names.
T is for Tapuwa. R stands Roy while E is for Emmanuel (Fundikwa) and C is for Cover (Simango).
TREC mainly specialises in diffs, gearboxes, engine services, car diagnosis, auto electric, suspensions, earth moving machines, trucks, general cars and bakkies.
In an interview coinciding with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), and the subsequent lockdown threatening players’ incomes, Kapini urged fellow professionals to make investments for life after football.
“I would like to encourage others out there to also start preparing for a new life after the end of football career. Imagine what happened to the majority players at Platinum Stars (formerly Silvers Starts) when the club was demoted from the Premiership, and eventually not heard of?”
Kapini himself returned from a 13-month injury layoff as the current league campaign was heading for the lockdown.
“Football players must always take advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are good. This career can easily disappear in the blink of an eye whenever one incurs permanent injury,” he emphasised.
He explained how he was striking a balance between donning studs and safety boots.
“Football comes first for me but whenever I have time to go to the workshop, I quickly rush there to join my workmates. Though I can do other works, my core-business at TREC is ensuring customers’ cars are well serviced, without errors.”
“Our professionalism in repairing vehicles has boosted our business. Many people always want to come with their cars to see the footballer-cum-mechanic juggling with the new trade,” he said smilingly.
The multi-tasking footballer urged those returning to work to comply with regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace and beyond.
Kapini has not harboured any thoughts of hanging his gloves anytime soon.
Aged 35, he believes he can play “two-to-three” more years.
“I have been inspired by other veteran goalkeepers such as Hans Vonk (ex-Ajax Cape Town FC and Bafana), Peter Shilton (ex-Leicester City and England) and Bruce Grobbelaar (ex-Liverpool and Zimbabwe), who played professional football until the ages of 40,” the former AmaZulu skipper said.
The experienced goalkeeper encourages younger goalkeepers at the Lions of the North not to feel threatened by his return to action.
He believes as a senior player in coach Owen da Gama’s side, his role is to boost the morale for the younger players, including fellow goalkeepers Marlon Heugh, Kyle Peters and Thela Ngobeni.
“I’m here to help these younger players achieve their big dreams but when the opportunity arises, I will also play to ensure we win as a team,” Kapini concluded.
– CAJ News