By Cwenga Maqhubela
Former Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns player Lerato Chabangu believes that he still has what it takes to return to professional football, this is after he has recovered from alcohol abuse and depression. He is now playing for Baberwa FC an amateur team from the ABC Motsepe league.
Lerato Chabangu created a name for himself at Mamelodi Sundowns from 2005 to 2009 and went on to play for Moroka Swallows from 2011 to 2015. Before having depression and alcohol problems. He then signed for Chippa United unfortunately for him that deal did not even last for six months. Chabangu said he started to have depression problems after his spell at Chippa United and that made him find an excuse of comforting with alcohol sometimes. “I was in a wrong space and most of my friends lived in the townships. I have no one to blame but can say I have destroyed myself. If you are in the wrong space, negative things will easily catch you,” he said when asked what led to his depression. Chabangu says he has lost everything he had and is living with his grandmother.
What is Chabangu up to now?
Lerato Chabangu has now resurrected his football career with Baberwa FC and he hopes to achieve a lot with his current team. He is not only focusing on his career as an individual but also plays a role of a mentor to his teammates. “I feel good that I’m playing again, I play with a lot of youngsters and it is more difficult playing with them because of their pace. I am giving them the challenge to push and work harder,” he said.
Where does he get support and what are his goals from now on?
‘All you need is love’ as he was known in the football pitch is getting support from Baberwa fc supporters and his supporters back home in Tembisa, “Baberwa football supporters and my people from back home are giving me the support I need and I am appreciative of that,” Chabangu said. He has planned his return to professional football as either a player or a coach as he plans to be a coach after he has decided to hang up his boots. Chabangu also had plans to open up the ‘Lerato Chanbangu foundation’ and try to help people from where he comes from, he added that “I will be open to help youngsters so that they should not go through what I went through.”
Lerato Chabangu’s word of advice
Chabangu emphasized on how one can easily lose themselves to alcohol abuse and says excuses wont help in such cases, but they only make the situation even worse. There are several other football players and coach(s) who have fall short due to depression and alcohol abuse, Masibusane Zongo, Jabu Mahlangu, Mbulelo Mabizela, Junior Khanye, Olaleng Shaku, Oscarine Masuluke and Kgoloko Thobejane. On a recent interview on Kickoff magazine, Lerato Chabangu has given words of advice to troublesome Masibusane Zongo and has warned him to change his was before it is too late. Reflecting on the general aspect of the whole situation Chabangu expressed his appreciation to everyone who has been supporting him through these tough times, he said “be careful of what you do in life, stay strong and keep on praying. Thanks to the loved ones who have been supporting me, I really appreciate that.”