MASERU – Playing in the Vodacom Premier League is the dream of every player.
While some enjoy this opportunity for the whole of their careers, for others it is a once in a lifetime chance.
For others still, the ultimate ambition is to represent your hometown team in the elite league.
Maduma hard-man Puseletso Makafane is living this dream.
After years as a journeyman the defender is finally turning out for his hometown team in the big time. It doesn’t get any better than this.
“I’m happy to be playing for the team where I grew up,” Makafane, who joined Maduma from Linare at the start of the season, says.
“It is something I can say I am proud of.”
And his homeboys are doing well too. It’s almost easy to forget Maduma were almost not even in the Vodacom Premier League.
The Khukhune side were embroiled in a dispute with A-Division Northern Stream rivals Mpharane Celtics over the right to gain promotion to the premiership.
The dispute took nearly two months of boardroom battles and to some it was a reason enough why unknown Maduma would be relegated.
Instead they are representing the district of Butha-Buthe with considerable success.
“We are playing well and the morale around the team is high,” Makafane says.
“We have experienced players like Sidwell (Mothea) and Khathatso (Sekonyela). They have premier league experience and they have helped the younger players a lot.”
Makafane is no spring chicken himself.
He first played in the top-flight with Roaring Lions in 2001.
When Lions were relegated he moved to Rovers and spent five years in Roma before a move to Botha Bothe Roses in 2007.
But his stay at Roses was short-lived and in 2008 he was on the move again this time to Linare.
Now Makafane, who began his playing career as a striker, is home in more ways than one and he’s determined to make it count.
Partly due to his performances at the back, such as a man-mountain shift against the champions Matlama in a goalless draw in Maseru last September, Maduma are sitting pretty in seventh place in the league — something not even the most optimistic Khukhune native would have predicted.
Maduma have five wins, more than Lioli and Likhopo.
At the moment they look far from the relegation fodder many predicted at the start of the season.
“Our strength is the midfield. We try to play the same way that got us here in the first place,” Makafane says.
The side, which is coached by Ntsatsana Phera, also have an impressive record at home.
Khukhune has become a fortress, their 14 goals scored at home is the most by any premier league team.
“(Our home ground) gives us an advantage because many teams are not used to it and our supporters also motivate us,” Makafane says.
Having tasted relegation before with Lions, Makafane is unsurprisingly aiming higher this season.
“Our aim is the top eight,” Makafane says bullishly. “We can do it,” he adds. “We just need to stay focused and keep working hard as a team. Everybody, our coaches, our fans and all the players have done a great job up to now.”
Last Sunday Maduma were thumped 5-1 by title chasing LCS. Today they face another tough test when they travel to St Monica’s to face a Mphatlalatsane side fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table.
The final two months of the season are going to be the defining test of Maduma’s dream season, but if the Khukhune side keep performing the same way then who knows — anything is possible