Madibaz central defender Samuel Connelly is confident the university football team can move to the next level after winning the Nelson Mandela Bay SAB Regional League for the second straight year.
The 20-year-old has been an influential player for the team this season and said they were looking forward to the play-offs to gain promotion to the ABC Motsepe league.
He feels the experience from last year, when they missed out on promotion, will stand them in good stead.
“We have a great bond in the team and we are hungry to learn more,” said Connelly.
“Most of us experienced the play-offs last year and we know what to expect and how to conquer this challenge. I have full confidence that we will qualify for ABC Motsepe this year.”
Having grown up in Schauderville in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas, Connelly attended Abraham Levy Primary before matriculating from Cillie High in 2016.
He said he started playing soccer at the age of seven and joined Hotspurs when he was 11.
He recalls an important educational development in his career when he received an opportunity to tour Holland, Spain and Germany.
“I learnt a lot from other coaches outside South Africa,” said Connelly.
“Another highlight was when I got called up to the Madibaz team to represent the university squad in all competitions.”
In praising a number of coaches who have influenced his career, Connelly also acknowledged his family, who have always been there in support.
“They would always make plans to watch me and it’s these small things that helped me develop into the player that I am today.
“I would like to thank God. I believe God gave me this gift and what I do with it is my gift back to Him.”
He also paid a touching tribute to Madibaz Sport Football manager Mark Tommy.
“He has not just been a manager, but a mentor and father figure in my life, and I will always be grateful for that.”