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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Nkangala AA boss Mabaso praises Phantane's Mdu Khumalo for donation of new tracksuits

When it comes to developing future champions, few do it better than Emmanuel Mabaso. So committed is the coach from Mpumalanga to discovering and training young athletes that he has taken on the nickname Shaper, for his tireless work in shaping junior runners. Once identified in the Middleburg township of Mhluzi and its surrounds, the athletes of Nkangala Athletic Academy go on to bigger and better.

"It is a gift given to me by God to work with kids, to guide and mentor them to become better individuals as the core of being responsible adults," he told #TheTopRunner. "When I joined my previous corporate team, I found my self as leader of the team. They just gave us clothing and transport to go to races. No one cared about our training, so as one of the disciplined individuals, the athletes put me in charge and I became the scouter, recruiting athletes for the club. In 2009 the company stopped funding sport, so I decided to establish a township team."

Nkangala Athletic Academy future champions pose in their new tracksuits sponsored by Mdu Khumalo of Phantane AC. Photo Credit: Emmanuel Mabaso.

Through the birth of Nkangala AC, the 41-year old discovered his true calling. Althogh he had been an able runner when he started at the age of 19, his foray into coaching and administration found immediate success. For example, orphaned twins Thulisile and Thobile Amon came under his care as Primary School children. Thanks to his guidance and support, the pair are now in the United States studying on athletics scholarships after being groomed by Mabaso. But notwithstanding the deep spiritual rewards he gains from helping the youth, the job has not been without its challenges.

Mabaso often struggles to raise funds to transport his athletes to major provincial and national championships, and with the South African economy being what it is - he often has to source food, clothing and running shoes for his athletes. But his work has not gone unnoticed. Founder and coach of Durban-based Phantane Athletics Club Mdu Khumalo recently donated R5 000 in order for Mabaso to get 10 tracksuits for his runners.

Mabaso poses with the legendary Willie Mtolo the Amon twins after they received assistance from Entsika Consulting to enable them to take up a pair of US Scholarships. Photo Credit: Emmanuel Mabaso.

"I was amazed and excited. The donation served as a reminder that we are not alone in this journey and the investment in our athletes will benefit the country as a whole. We appointed local women to sew the tracksuits for us. The fact that donation was received from out side the province and Phantane in particular, was a great feeling for everyone and they felt their performance is well recognized. It inspires all to give their best every moment," he concluded.

The future champions of the Nkangala Athletics Academy will strike out in their new tracksuits at the first Athletics Mpumalanga Cross Country League race of the season tomorrow.

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