By AIDEN DARIES
Chris Totobela is a household name in Makhanda, and rightfully so. “Molo Chris”, “Chris my brother”, and “Chris, how’s life treating you?” are what he hears as he travels to work.
Totobela was “born, bred and buttered” in Makhanda. Growing up in the 80s, in a place where there were ongoing anti-apartheid protests, affected his childhood. Staying in his house and not having much time outdoors was unfamiliar to children back then, but that is exactly what he endured.
Despite this lack of freedom due to the protests, he had a burning passion for football, and at just ten years old, he decided to start his own football team, Soccer Chiefs, with friends in his neighbourhood.
His older brother had a massive influence on his decision to start a football team as he watched his brother play the beautiful game every weekend.
Totobela soon realised he was more interested in the administration side of the game than playing. Then, at the age of 14, Totobela started yet another team. Joza Bushbucks went on to sweep the local trophy board.
Later, as an adult, he established African Connection FC, which now helps girls and women both on and off the field. He takes pride in African Connection as it is not only a football club but a community – a family, if you will.
He also writes knowledgeably about local football, boxing and netball for Grocott’s Mail.
Being born into a town convulsed by the anti-apartheid struggle was undoubtedly tricky. But Totobela has staying power and is now recognised by everyone in this close-knit community.
He says he sees himself living here until his last days. In that case, I wouldn’t be surprised if one more football team springs up in the town.