A dream of playing professional football has finally come true for the 2018 Nedbank Ke Yona Challenge Man of the Match and goal scorer Lunathi Mdatyulwa.
He has successfully signed a three-year professional contract with Eastern Cape-based Premier Soccer League side Chippa United FC, making the 22-year-old Mdatyulwa the first Ke Yona player to pen a deal this year.
Mdatyulwa joins fellow Nedbank Ke Yona graduates playing at the highest level such as Bafana Bafana international and Supersport United defender, Aubrey Maphosa Modiba (2014); Highlands Park midfielder, Ricardo Versuur (2015); Free State Stars defender, Bongani Mbuli (2016) and Bloemfontein Celtic left-back Bongani Sam (2017).
In this year’s Ke Yona Challenge against Free State Stars, ‘Lulu’ as Mdatyulwa is often referred to by his teammates, was at the heart of the team’s attack, scoring a stunner of a goal to level matters against the more experienced Ea Lla Koto.
His ability to read the game, propelling the team into attack and his sharp eye for goal earned him much praise and the honour of being selected as Man of the Match.
“I just want to say thanks to Nedbank for giving me a lifetime opportunity like this one,” he said.
“For me, it is a life changing opportunity which I will grab with both hands. It was not easy getting back to the level where I always knew I belonged, which is part of a professional team,” added Mdatyulwa, who went on to thank his family and older brother Zola Mcaciso for not giving up on him.
“This is the beginning of a new chapter for me and the best is yet to come, but it will take hard work, respect, dedication and for me to always be humble,” said the Hout Bay-born youngster who also thanked the Ke Yona technical team.”I’ve simply learnt a lot from them.”
The pacey attacking midfielder has featured for the development sides of Ajax Cape Town, Mamelodi Sundowns and Cape Town City but was never offered a contract. While his talent remained unquestionable, as with most talented youngsters in South Africa, challenges off the pitch hampered his success.