A couple of years ago, one Hellings Frank Gabadinho Mhango then playing for Big Bullets failed his Junior certificate examinations. The country went into an uproar, vilifying him and hanging his parents for not guiding him well. More people argued why education is still important and why we must not celebrate mediocrity and so on and so forth. Well, one day we shall discuss this in detail. Later, the boy found his way to South Africa playing his professional football there. He still got call ups to the national team. I remember when he had a drought in his career, couldn’t score goals and there was a time he also changed teams or rather off loaded by another team and so on, all very normal for every athlete. There was a time when we heard rumours that he was ill treated somewhere. I also remember that yeah, well, he could hardly speak the Queen’s language.

Why am I talking about Gaba today? I want to address the power of focus. He is now playing for Orlando Pirates in South Africa one of the biggest teams in that country. His team won many games by his goals. He has also gone away with a hat tricks in his appearances. Many football lovers would agree with me when I say the boy is in his top form by all standards.

The boy has the 4 Cs now: Charisma, Confidence, Composure and Class on the pitch.

I remember one time after a soccer match, I waited for the presentation of the man of match award. It was not surprising to see that he was also voted as the man of the match. They were quick to add that it was not because of the goal he had scored but due to his overall performance throughout the game and they were right. He had focus, and he was consistent throughout the entire game. Then a reporter asked him a few questions. I held my breath in anticipation, then the boy shocked me. He was confident in his responses, all his tenses were on point, gave credit to his team mates and God of course. Praised the new coach for his strategy. Believe me, I was a proud Malawian in that moment. We had an experience one time before when one of our national team football players switched to the vernacular during such an interview. But this time it was different. The junior secondary school drop out was well spoken better than most graduates I know. There was fire in his eyes. He did not even bother to look at the tall man who was interviewing him. He listened to every question attentively and kept his responses straight to the point. You really think this happened miraculously? No. Not at all.

Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates scores from the penalty during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 football match between Amazulu and Orlando Pirates at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on 24 October 2020 ©Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

You see, the boy knew, early on, that he was not cut out for the classroom. He was good on the ball, and that’s the route he took. Whether or not you still need a Master of Science in Football Pitch Management to be a good striker is a story for another day. He never stopped chasing his dream. Even when the country threw him under the bus for failing that paper which has now been erased from the face of the earth, he still marched on. Even when he had a drought in his career, going on free transfers from one team to another, he marched on. Even when he had an unfortunate incident that had him suspended for several games, he still marched on, learnt his lessons and picked himself up. The boy went on to launch his own clothing line, doing something most of us only see in magazines. He has obviously taught himself the Queen’s language enough to get him through. I have seen some top notch athletes and coaches who can hardly speak English no one vilifies them, as a matter of fact they are praised and adored for, “keeping it real”. Why do we do this to our own? Again, this is a story for another day.

Listen, when you start a journey, it does not mean all will be smooth. Regardless of what you face, the goal must never change. This is why you cannot afford to do life without a plan. You can not wake up each and every day thinking you will tackle issues as they come. NO! Are you going to fail? Absolutely. Shall you meet challenges? Of course and even on a daily basis too. Should you quit? Hell NO! Not even when everybody else tells you it can not work.

If success was easy, all of us should have been successful. But it becomes extremely hard to break through especially when you lack focus, determination, consistency and discipline. You really think Ronaldo, Messi and Gaba got to where they are over night? Think again! Their display of skill is a result of boring repetitions of the same thing over and over again.

Your problem is not opportunities, your challenge is that you lack focus and are not willing to pay the ultimate price. If that’s your situation my friend, let me humbly announce this to you; you will remain below average.

PS: I am a Bullets fan, always have been and I am looking for a Gaba shirt and a cap. I shall wear these very very proudly. It matters less whether he will lose form again next season, next month or next year, who does not anyway? In any case we refuse to live our lives in the negative. For now, we choose to celebrate him, wholeheartedly.

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