2/7/2024 12:00:00 AM

Evergreen Highlands Park keeper Kapini mixes football and business

PIC: Tapuwa Kapini of Highlands Park

Highlands Park is a famous old name in South African football and as recently as 2020 was campaign in the topflight before they sold their status to the owners of TS Galaxy and dropped into the third tier.

They will clash with last season’s beaten finalists Sekhukhune United in the Last 32 of the 2024 Nedbank Cup, back in the national spotlight though with a much-changed squad of players.
There are some familiar names – veteran goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini is still playing, while long-time midfielder Sandile Khwela and ex-Platinum City Rovers player Tobani Jafta are also in the squad.
Kapini, now 39 years old but still going strong, is a former Sekhukhune player too, so this tie will have extra spice for the former Zimbabwe international.

“It is a good draw for us as Highlands Park, we have youngsters who wanted this opportunity to showcase their talent,” Kapini said. “I am still playing, 100 per cent, but I also help in the goalkeeping department. We have a good squad of players.”
Kapini says he has no thoughts of retirement despite plugging away in what is essentially South Africa’s amateur ranks, though he adds with a family to feed, he has little choice. He also despairs at young players who throw their careers away due to off-field issues and wants to make a difference as a mentor for his Highlands Park teammates.

“It is all about understanding what you are playing for. It is about knowing you have a family to feed, being disciplined, not to go to clubs every day to drink a lot and kill your career,” he said.
“I am married and focused on my kids. It is football that brought me to South Africa and I will keep playing until my body says ‘no’.

“I have played for so long, and I think they (his teammates) look at me and they think to themselves, ‘I want to be the next Kapini’.”
The gloveman also has a sideline as he part owns a mechanic workshop having ventured into the business world three years ago. 
“We are now doing more in terms of engines, we used to just do gear boxes, but now we concentrate on doing the overall engines,” Kapini says, before revealing how he got into the trade.
“I had a problem with my car, with the gear box, a friend of mine introduced me to someone who fixes them. First I took it to the dealer and I was quoted R62,000 to replace the gear-box.
“But this guy Emmanuel said, ‘just buy the things you need and I will fix the gear box for you’. We spoke about the business, and from there we have now opened up our workshop. It is the third year of growth for the business.”
Highlands Park were Nedbank Cup quarterfinalists in 2020 before the sale of their status, but in the four years before that only reached the second round once.

Their leading scorer in the competition is Peter Shalulile with three goals. Now at Mamelodi Sundowns, he has 14 overall to be the top marksman in the Nedbank Cup since 2008. Ryan Rae is the only other player to score in eight games for Highlands Park.

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