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Collins Makgaka: From Limpopo to the City of Gold

     Last week, 24-year-old attacking midfielder Collins Makgaka officially completed a dream move to the Johannesburg-based club he supported as a child, Orlando Pirates. Pan-Africa Football spoke by phone with Collins and his agent, Kieran Brown of Sprint Management, to find out more about the move and Makgaka’s journey from a rural town of less than 3,000 people to one of the world’s largest cities.

     Kieran Brown explained that the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 led to an extended period of waiting before a move came to fruition. Brown mentioned that several clubs were interested in Collins, but Pirates’s influential chairman, Irvin Khoza, had been monitoring the player for a while. When the club that Collins supported came calling, the prestige and spotlight of playing with Pirates was an opportunity that was too good to pass up. After all, Orlando Pirates was the club where Makgaka’s favorite player, Teko Modise, established his playmaking reputation and began featuring regularly for South Africa’s national team.

Makgaka began his career at Baroka F.C. in Limpopo.
Orlando Pirates have a passionate group of fans popularly known as “The Happy People”.

     Collins expressed that appearing with Bafana Bafana is a lifelong dream of his, and is a goal he hopes to achieve while playing for the ‘Buccaneers. His immediate priority is to help the team return to winning trophies, their last triumph being the Nedbank Cup in 2014. The creative midfielder describes himself as an offensive player who has been utilized on the left, right, or center. When asked about his style of play, Makgaka stated, “I like to move forward and contribute to the team, whether it is by scoring or creating for teammates.” Moments like this goal against Highlands Park highlight his ability on set pieces as well:

    To join a club with the reputation and professionalism of Orlando Pirates is an accomplishment that Collins could hardly have imagined when he was young. Growing up in rural Marble Hall, Limpopo, an area known for its mining industry, the odds of Collins being discovered weren’t as likely as a young player in one of South Africa’s large cities. Collins noted that several people helped his efforts to be a professional footballer, and highlighted the enthusiasm of one school teacher in particular. His big break came when his school team played an exhibition match against a local professional side, Baroka F.C. Despite impressing in the match and catching the eye of Baroka, Collins almost missed out on joining the team because he did not know of the interest in him.

     However, the Baroka manager at the time, Kgoloko Thobejane, was able to eventually track down Collins and offer him a contract. Soon, Makgaka was realizing his dream of professional football at the age of 19. He made his first appearances as a professional in the 2015-16 season, which saw Baroka earn promotion to the top tier by winning the National First Division. Where Collins began to make an impact was through South Africa’s cup competitions. The fresh-faced attacker scored his first professional goal against local rivals Polokwane City in the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup by smashing home a low cross to help along Baroka’s surprising run to the final 4.

Collins made 61 appearances in all competitions during his time at Baroka, scoring five goals.

     Life in the top division isn’t easy for a small club like Baroka, with relegation always a threat. However, Collins gradually earned the trust of the coaches and saw his league appearances increase while getting accustomed to the pressure of competing at a high level. The 2018-19 season saw Collins feature regularly as Baroka continued to escape the relegation trapdoor. Early in that season, a cup competition was where he and his team shook things up once again. Baroka obtained their first top-level trophy and substantial prize money when they won the 2018 Telkom Knockout Cup, an elimination tournament featuring South Africa’s 16 top division teams. Collins got the campaign off to a flying start by scoring in the first minute of the opening match, and appeared as a substitute in the final where the unfancied side defeated Makgaka’s future club, Orlando Pirates, on penalties. Collins cited winning this tournament as the accomplishment he is most proud of in his career.

     Makgaka stated that he is grateful for the opportunity that Baroka provided for him in helping to pursue his dream profession. Now that he has the opportunity to represent Orlando Pirates, Collins is excited to get to work after not being able to play during the “bubble” phase at the end of this past season. With Pirates taking part in five different competitions this upcoming season, there will be opportunities for Makgaka to continue his steady progression as a player and perhaps accomplish his next goal, representing South Africa internationally.

3 COMMENTS

  1. We are so proud of Makgaka ..
    We look up to him as an inspiration in our community .
    He revived the love of football in our young brothers (mine personally) when he made it to PSL .
    We hope and pray that your long term goal to join the national team is fulfilled.

  2. On behalf of Try Again fc,would like to say ‘All the best in ur carrier ‘,,we knew that u were big fan of Orlando Pirates..now we’re happy to see you joining the Team

    Goodluck Makgaka Collins

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