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I LIVE, EAT, BREATHE SPORTS - MAVIKANE

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He is an easily recognisable face in the sporting fraternity. Victor ‘Mavikane’ Dlamini is a name synonymous with a lot of people in sport. He has been involved in local sport development for over 15 years now and commands high respect from many. He puts a lot of hard work into everything that he does because the word failure does not exist in his vocabulary. 

In this face-to-face interview with SABELO NDZINISA, the free-spirited ‘Mavikane’ gives a background of his involvement in sport and why he feels the vision of the current Athletics Eswatini (AE) led by Zakhele Dlamini is destined to produce the desired results. It’s an interesting read, enjoy…

 

TIMES: Who exactly is Victor ‘Mavikane’ Dlamini? 

MAVIKANE DLAMINI (MD): I was born and raised in Hlatikhulu in the Shiselweni Region. I did my primary (Grade I and II) at Christ the King before moving to Mbabane Central where I completed my education. I was staying at Sandla Township at the time and went to the same class with the likes of the late ‘Koki’ Vilakati, Sdumo Mdladla and many others who all went on to become respected citizens of this country. I come from a family of four with two brothers and two sisters. Most people are not aware that I actually played for Mbabane Swallows Under-17s from 1982 to 1984 before being promoted to the Under-20s. The interesting part is that most of my friends who were staying at Sandla were either supporters or played for Mbabane Highlanders. Even today, I am very close to Highlanders people. During my school days at Mbabane Central, I was recruited by Highway Never Die who were playing in the super league at the time. I played there for a season as a striker and unfortunately, I had to go to tertiary which meant taking a break from football. I went to William Pitcher College for teaching practice and upon completion, my first school was ironically at Christ the King where I did my primary. I was appointed sports teacher despite being there for about six months and started developing a passion for athletics because I was responsible for training athletes there. That is when I discovered that I actually loved athletics more than football and I am very proud to have managed to produce good athletes for the region. My school actually dominated when it came to producing athletes who represented the region during the inter-schools competitions. Unfortunately, I was transferred to Ka-Schiele High in 1998 and hardly six months later, I was made sports teacher. I found seasoned sports administrators like Bizzah Mkhonta, Musa Mamba and Anthony Mdluli in that school. Ka-Schiele was famous for being excellent in athletics because we dominated Mbabane competitions. Hhohho as a region was able to produce good athletes for the country especially in relays.     

 

TIMES: Tell us a bit about your time at Swaziland Schools Sports Association (SSSA)

MD: I was elected secretary in 2004 and we were able to get a lot of sponsors like KFC and Coca-Cola. I must say the efficiency of SSSA was there for everyone to see because through soccer games, we were able to produce great talent like Chocco Sibandze, Mzoro Dlamini, Maponyane (Bheki Mazibuko, the late former Royal Leopard and Mbabane Swallows striker) and Darren Christie among others. After four years in office, my executive lost the elections and Phumuza Ntshangase took over as chairman with Dino Dlamini replacing me as secretary. There were no hard-feelings about losing the elections and I was already teaching at Jubukweni High school at the time. I was made sports teacher at that school and it is where I started developing love for netball. I made history in the country by leading the Jubukweni netball team to five consecutive victories in netball competitions including KFC. We were dominant and that is how I got into netball. During that time, stokvels were not allowed during schools competitions but all that has changed now. Allowing schools to play stokvels is killing the development of sport in my view. The only way to rectify this is for is for head teachers to sit down with SSSA and work on correcting the current situation. SSSA must manage school competitions and at the rate things are being done, development is dead now. 

 

TIMES: What is the importance of SSSA in as far as sport development is concerned?

MD: This association is very important for the development of sport in the country. Without development, we are not going anywhere as a country in sport. SSSA must be vibrant because development starts at schools. The efficiency of the association, therefore, becomes very important.

 

TIMES: Your netball journey, tell us how it all started?

MD: My success with the Jubukweni netball team rewarded me with recognition in the sport. A lot of netball teams competing in the national leagues were scouting for good talent in my school team, which I was coaching and training. Teams like Correctional and SUFIAW recruited my players and this happened around the time when there were to be elections for the new netball association executive committee. I was duly elected the secretary of the association in 2005 as teams showed confidence in me. I was then recruited by Maswazi Shongwe who was Sports Director in the Ministry of Home Affairs to manage their netball team in the ministry. I was able to recruit players from Phophonyane and Ngwane Central to join Home Affairs. The team performed well but the transition of home affairs to sports, culture and youth affairs ministry disrupted our progress. I then attended a netball congress in Pretoria where netball Africa was to elect a new executive. Believe or not, I was elected general secretary for Netball Africa, a high recognition for me. Unfortunately, there was campaign in the local association to remove officials from leadership and as fate would have it, I was not elected into the new office and I was therefore forced to relinquish my position at Netball Africa, which was a blow for the country. That is how I left netball.

 

TIMES: Interesting indeed…now share with us your experiences as Eswatini Olympics and Commonwealth Games Association (EOCGA) Board member and how it happened?

MD: I joined SOCGA (EOCGA now) in 2008 as a Board member after elections where I was made Board member, a position I held for two consecutive terms from 2008 to 2016. Being part of the Olympic Committee opened my mind in sporting issues and made me to appreciate all sports the same way. I took part in useful courses, which exposed me to international travels. My first trip was to Zambia Congress for sports for all before attending the same course in Botswana. I was appointed Chef De Mission when local athletes went to the Isle of Man in England for the Youth Commonwealth Games. I attended another conference in Peru at a place called Lima. My last trip was at Samoa for the Youth Commonwealth Games. I was able to grow through SOCGA because that is where I developed love for all sports. 

 

TIMES: You made quite a big name for yourself at Matsapha United. What were your highlights during your time there?

MD: Some people do not know that I was first PRO (Public Relations Officer) for Tinyosi FC who were playing in the first division at the time.  I stayed there for a season but the team was relegated and I was in the wilderness for about two years before the Matsapha United offer came knocking at my door. Initially, I went there to work in the marketing department but a year later, I was made the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the team. I gained quite a lot in terms of football administration experience because I was part of a project which I embraced as good vision by the team owners. The team had a number of good players and this team came with great vibe after winning a wide support base around Matsapha within a short space of time. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the team to be honest because I got the exposure of working with other PROs and learnt a lot from them. There was always competition of being trying to be better, which developed me as PRO because I had to apply creative tactics to capture the imagination of football people and win their hearts. I was also able to foster good social relationships with a lot of people in football.

 

TIMES: How did you become involved in athletics and can you assess the standard of the sport in the country?

MD: I was first approached by Zakhele Dlamini, who is now Athletics Eswatini President, to help him market the Lubombo marathon. This was a big event organized by his athletics club TZD but because of COVID-19, the event could not continue. Dlamini again approached me to become PRO of Athletics Eswatini and when I looked at their vision, I was immediately impressed because I could see the direction they wanted to take. It has been wonderful working with them so far and I must mention that I also worked as PRO for Manzini Athletics Club, which was for a short time due to professional reasons. The long layoff due to COVID-19 affected a lot of athletes because their fitness levels were not up to scratch. This was evident during the first build-up to the national athletics championships where the athletes struggled but it was a better showing in the second build-up as you could tell that the fitness level had improved. I can declare confidently that the finals of the championships this weekend will be the best ever in the history of the sport. Athletics fanatics should not miss out.

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