Sephelo Baloni | First Interview

In the hallowed realm of football, where dreams are nurtured and destinies are forged, emerges a tale of raw talent and unyielding determination personified in the meteoric rise of a certain Sephelo Baloni. 

Like a shooting star that streaks across the night sky, Baloni’s journey from a practical unknown playing in the National First Division to rubbing shoulders with his revered idols at one of the continent’s most illustrious clubs is a testament to the enchanting magic of this sport that we call the Beautiful Game. 

His journey serves as a powerful reminder that unwavering commitment, dedication, and a determined mindset can truly bring dreams to fruition. 

In his first interview as a Buccaneer with Orlandopiratesfc.com, Baloni recalls the life-changing moment when he was introduced to the game at the tender age of 11. From that very instant, gazing upon a soccer ball, he knew with unwavering certainty the career path he was destined to pursue.

Welcome to the Club. Please tell us. For those who don’t know, can you tell us – who is Sephelo Baloni? 

SB: Thank you, brother! My name is Sephelo, a young man who grew up at Sasolburg in the Free State but home is in the Eastern Cape, Dutywa.

You have come a long way. There must have been many sacrifices that you have had to make for you to be where you are today?

SB: Yes for sure. This is a game of sacrifice. I’ve learned very early on that this is a game that requires many sacrifices.

I have had to let go of lifestyles that would have been a hindrance to my life and my career.  I chose to focus on playing football and taking it seriously as a career. I realised at a young age that football was my calling, and I did my best to serve and perfect this gift from God. Even at home it was easy for them to recognise that I was passionate about football. 

How would you describe yourself?

SB: As a player – I am a midfielder who loves to play the game but as a person, its deeper than that. 

I am a person who is goal-driven, and I have a passion to win…. I always want to win. But like I said earlier, this doesn’t come automatically, and this is why I’m such a hard worker. I understand that nothing is given to you, you must work hard to get what you want. 

When you are not on the field what are some of your interests and some of your hobbies? 

SB: Outside of football I mostly relax and watch movies. I also enjoy doing some research on the history of football or the teams that I am currently playing for. I sometimes go to the mall, but in all honesty my life is centred around football. When I feel like interacting with other people, I mostly spend quality time with my family and my significant other. 

You say you love movies. What kind of movies do you like?

SB: I enjoy action movies the most. Your Fast and the Furious type of movies, that kind of stuff. I think I enjoy these movies because of how some of the characters in those films show bravery and fearlessness. 

Last season you were widely regarded as one of the most promising midfielders in the Motsepe Foundation Championship. What do you think makes you different from other midfielders and what do you think distinguishes you from other players?

SB: When you are a player, and you know what you want. Your mindset is bound to be different from that of other players. Everything that you do on the field will be different and the people watching will notice. Nowadays there are many talented players, but unfortunately talent alone is not enough. One has to do more. I know what my roles are as a midfielder, but I do not end there, I stretch myself. 

Even my former coach told me that he did not give me the responsibility of being a vice captain without reason. He gave it to me because of my strong personality. He told me that my personality is not the same as that of other people. Even when I am on the bench, I am not envious of other players, I encourage those who are playing because I understand my role as a team-mate that its not only about me and my needs but more about the team objectives. I think these are some of the things that make me different. 

Orlando Pirates had an impressive season in 2022/2023. What do you think you are going to contribute to the club so that the club remains on the same level?

SB: I must continue doing what got me recognised in the first place. As I said to you earlier, I am a goal-driven individual who believes in hard work. That’s all I can do, and this is what I promise to continue delivering. If I do that, all should fall in place.

There are many experienced players in Orlando Pirates. How do you feel about the fact that you are going to be playing amongst some of these big names? Does it give you pressure or does it motivate you? 

SB: For me I don’t see it as pressure at all. It just motivates me because it gives me a benchmark of what to do and what I should not do. So regardless of who I am playing with I try to learn something new from them. When we are practicing the guys tell me that I must not be intimidated, and I should just be myself.

Even when I do not have the ball on me, they push me to ask for it because they can see that I do wonders when I have the ball and I can protect it. People that I play with in the middle have shown me love and they have welcomed me well to the team.

And with that I would like to thank the Club for entrusting me with this opportunity. I would like to repay them for the faith that they have shown in me. I also look forward to playing in front of the supporters. Many may not know me right now, but with time I promise to show them my appreciation by giving my all every time I step into that field. 

Thanks for the time Sephelo. That will be it for now. All the best for the new season.

SB: Thank you!

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