Aspiring football agent shares his story: I want to be remembered for being selfless

In the modern footballing world, agents have turned out to be instrumental. Sports agents serve a valuable role in terms of securing and negotiating contracts for the professional players/athletes. Soccer Betting News’ Banele Pikwa caught up with a young and aspiring agent, Yohanna Mathevula, who started his own agency and recruiting players when he was still in Grade 10. He now manages players in the Absa Premiership, National First Division and MultiChoice Diski Challenge.



Banele Pikwa: Good day Yohanna, thank you for taking the time out to chat with us. So tell us, when did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career as a football agent and how did it get started?

Yohanna Mathevula: How’s it going, Banele? Sure, not a problem at all. I realised in 2014 after I saw a lot of players not being scouted around my hood. I remember taking three players to join an ABC Motsepe side.

BP: Interesting, how old were you in 2014? 

YM: I was 16 years old, and I was still doing grade 10 when I saw this opportunity. Scouts were no longer coming to my hood and I really wished we had more professional players because of the talent we had.

BP: How do you differentiate yourself from other agencies in the competitive football representation industry? 

YM: My strategy is based on honesty and being direct with the players. Whenever I recruit a player, I always tell him what we can do for him and what we can’t do for him. I’ve heard players complain about how other agencies promise them the world just to get their signature and deliver none of those promises. At Sundani Sports Group, we tell you the truth and also encourage you to work extra hard, push yourself to the top.

BP: How tough is it to recruit against the larger agencies?

YM: It’s very tough to compete with the big agencies, I recruit a player and take care of him while he is still in the dust. I look after him and believe in him. But whenever they get to the top, that’s where the big agencies come with bigger promises just to get their signature and some of the players end up signing with them behind my back. Working with players is not easy, some of the players only recognize you as an agent if you’re driving, have a fancy office and all those materialistic things.

BP: So what else do you find to be the most challenging part of representing clients?

YM: Loyalty. Some players are not loyal and that is the most frustrating part about this industry. So you have to make sure that you find the players who are willing to stick with you through thick and thin, but it’s not easy.

BP: Why did you start Sundani Sports Group instead of trying to work for an already-established agency?

YM: The thing is, I felt that it’s better to build my own legacy than to push someone else. I even named the company after my mother just to show it’s a family thing and that I’m building something big for the family.

BP: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself when you first set out in the sports industry?

YM: My advice is that nothing beats hard work, so there’s nothing that can prevent me from achieving what I want to achieve. You have to start by believing in yourself, as there is nothing more liberating than assisting the most talented.

BP: Which are some of the clubs that the players you represent play for?

YM: In the PSL, we have Kenneth Nthatheni at Polokwane City, Ntanganedzeni Mudau at Black Leopards and we have Takalani Rashilima of TTM [Tshakhuma FC] in the NFD. We have quite a few in the MDC and we have one player: Washington Parira at Harare City, in Zimbabwe.

BP: Which player would you say you work best with or have the best relationship with?

YM: I work well with most of my players, but if I were to choose who I work best with it would be Takalani Rashilima. He is very professional, he’s disciplined on and off the field. He’s a very humble and down to earth person who’s always willing to learn and improve.

BP: You’ve mentioned your mother, which other people have been influential in your career? 

YM: The people who have been influential in my life is my family, they have been with me and believed in me since day one. They have been pushing me and giving me all the support, so all thanks to them. The second person is Joseph Mathebula who was my principal in high school, who also happens to be a businessman. He supported me a lot financially and we ended up becoming partners. We come a very long way. At some point, I could even afford to buy boots for the players and he was always there to rescue me and he always said: “boy, if there is something that you need, just contact me, I’m always ready to assist.”

BP: I see. So lastly, how would you want your clients to remember you once their careers come to a close?

YM: I would love my clients to remember me as a selfless agent who is their life story-changer taking them from nothing to something.

BP: Excellent stuff. Thanks for your time, Yohanna, I know you’re a busy man. All the best on your future endeavours.

YM: Thanks a lot Banele and good luck to you too brother. Feel free to contact me when you have some betting tips (haha).