Former Blue Waters and Brave Warriors star winger Sydney Plaatjies has proved that you can reach your life goals, even when you are raised by a single mother, as long as you remain true to yourself and stay focused on your craft.
The well travelled footballer, who was born at Mariental, moved to Windhoek with his mother at the tender age of 11 before staying at Khorixas briefly and settling down at Swakopmund, where his football career took a serious turn.
It was while he attended school at AI Steenhamp Primary School in Katutura, playing for the school team alongside the likes of Rudi Louw, Bradley Asprilla Wermann and Cleverly Afrikaner, that he was first introduced to organised football.
“I only came to realise later on that Rudi, Asprilla and Cleverly and I were school teammates. It never crossed my mind then that we will become big players one day and that we will also represent our country,” Plaatjies says.
“Coming from the southern parts of the country, basic things like ball control and skills came naturally. I also had pace and physical strength, but I still had to learn a lot relating to the tactical and technical part of the game. Playing for the national teams helped a great deal.”
Plaatjies attended Versteende Woud Primary School at Khorixas from Grade 5 before moving on to Swakopmund where he enrolled at Swakopmund Secondary School.
He received his first Erongo regional team call-up while he was in Grade 8 when he was selected for the Coastal Under-15 Invitational XI that played against the visiting Westphalia regional team from Germany in 1996.
His excellent showing for the coastal side guaranteed him a place on the national invitational team that played the same Westphalia selection in Windhoek.
“I joined Young Blue Boys when I moved to Swakopmund. I gave a very good account of myself there because it was not long before one of my teachers at Swakopmund Secondary invited me to join his team, Refugees, which played in the Coastal First Division,” Plaatjies says.
“Refugees were definitely a step up and the league was very competitive. That is where I met the stylish Anthony ‘Tiny’ van Wyk with whom I would become teammates at Blue Waters later on. I joined Blue Waters during my matric year in 1999.”
Plaatjies, who started as a striker earlier in his career, describes himself as a player who was very committed and dedicated, while he also listened very attentively to his coaches and carried out their instructions diligently.
The 1999 Sportsman of the Year of Swakopmund Secondary School, who moved to Walvis Bay to stay at Blue Waters chairman Hendrick David’s Players Village, won his only Namibian Premier League title with Blue Waters in the 2003/4 season, followed by two MTC Christmas Cups and one FNB Cup.
“Blue Waters underwent a major transformation under chairman Davids and they even assembled some of the best players from around the country. It was such a great pleasure to be part of such great and talented players,” Plaatjies says.
“I stayed two years with Blue Waters before I moved to England after matric on a one-year working holiday visa. I returned to Blue Waters and stayed on for only two years before I joined Jomo Cosmos in the South African Premier Soccer League in 2006.”
“I enjoyed myself at Cosmos under the legendary Jomo Sono and I can proudly say that I enjoyed my football more than ever. I also enjoyed my most memorable moments on the football pitch with Cosmos in the South African professional league.
“There were a few outstanding moments, but the most standout was when we defeated Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in a PSL match and I scored my first league goal. Another was when I converted one of the penalties to knock Sundowns from the Telkom Cup after a penalty shoot-out.”
He picked out the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier away to Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, during which one of the Katupose twin brothers, Muna, played a pivotal role to qualify Namibia for the 2008 Afcon, as one of his most memorable matches in a Brave Warriors jersey.
Apart from representing Namibia at the 2008 Afcon in Ghana, Plaatjies was also part of the under-19 team that participated at the Gothia Cup in Sweden and Helsinki Cup in Finland.
The former sharpshooter also played at the Under-20 Cosafa Cup in South Africa and, prior to that he was with the Namibian Schools Sport Union under-19 team at the 1998 Ball Games in Botswana, under coach Gabriel Freyer whom he describes as someone with great significance in the earlier development of his football career.
During his professional career in South Africa, Plaatjies moved to Sundowns after Cosmos were relegated during his second season with the club. His only success with Sundowns was a silver medal after they finished runners-up to Chiefs in the MTN Top Eight Cup.
“Sundowns appointed the legendary Hristo Stoichkovic and he brought in several new players because he wanted to play in a certain way which didn’t suit my style. I was loaned out to Moroka Swallows as a result and I started enjoying my football again,” he says.
“I won the Telkom Cup with Swallows after we saw off the University of Pretoria in the finals. I went back to Sundowns after my loan spell with Swallows, but I later signed for Mpumalanga Black Aces on a permanent move before joining Kapurscorp do Palanca in Angola.”
Plaatjies signed a three-year contract with Vietnam Premier League outfit Dong Thap FC but what was supposed to be a financially lucrative move turned sour after the former Blue Waters star sustained a career-ending injury after only six months in his contract.
The retired star is currently based in Pretoria, South Africa, and he married the love of his life Kamogelo Plaatjies in 2013. The couple have two children while the former footballer also has children from previous relationships.
Although he works for a health pharmaceutical company on a permanent basis, he also works part-time as a professional fitness trainer.
“What I basically do is to go to retailers to present our products to them. Although we also sell essential medical stuff like high blood pressure tablets and immune boosters, we have a very broad and attractive portfolio in the health sector,” Plaatjies says.
“I wouldn’t say that I am facing major challenges in my pursuit to provide for my family but it is the wish of every company to do more in order to grow from the previous year. We also set ourselves targets to achieve. Our products must be the leaders out there.”
He says becoming a fitness trainer emerged from his personal passion for fitness as a former footballer who has a Confederation of African Football coaching C licence, which he wants to upgrade.
Plaatjies, who still harbours hopes of becoming a professional football coach, advises young players to learn from their predecessors because like them, they are not indispensable.
“Make wise decisions when you have money and the most important is to think about the days when you are no longer earning a living from football. Football is a very lucrative but short career. Stay disciplined, take care of your body and respect your craft,” he says.
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