Luso Legend: John Comitis

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Luso Legend: John Comitis

Former Ajax Cape Town Chairman John Comitis is better known for his role as a club boss, but he also has a playing history and Vasco da Gama was an influential part of his soccer development.

Where did your playing career begin and how?
It started with Corinthians in a Johannesburg amateur league in 1981 and then I was with Wits University in the reserve side when I was 19 years old. The coach then was Julie Kaplan, but it was Mike Kenning who brought me into the first team in the NPSL.

I then played in the BP Top eight in 1984 at Wits, but I left that season to play for Jomo Cosmos for two seasons. Then I joined a Second Division team in Greece called Corinth for two seasons (1986-88).

On my return, I moved to Cape Town for business and joined Hellenic FC, where I played for a few seasons and I also played for Cape Town Spurs. At age 29 I returned to be a player-coach at Vasco da Gama in the amateur leagues again.

Tell us about your time playing at Vasco da Gama?
I joined Vasco after a stint with Cape Town Spurs as a player-coach in 1992. We won both the league and the cup that year and played in the Nedbank Cup. We reached the Last 16 and got knocked out by Santos 1-0.

There was once a link between your old team CT Spurs and Vasco, how did that work?
Mich D’Avray was CT Spurs coach under Rodwell in 1995/96 after they gained promotion, and I then went to Vasco as player-coach. We trained at the same facilities as Vasco and there was player co-operation and Spurs invested in the facilities.

But then CT Spurs won the double and if you can recall they disbanded with the departure of Rodwell. This is when I stepped in and bought CT Spurs in around 1997.

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Who were the quality players and coaches you worked with?
I was the coach with my dad, Mr C [Comitis], as we know him. The players I drafted were ex-pros and friends like Dave and Gary Wymers, Richard Ribeiro, Johnny de Sousa, Julian Johnson (goalkeeper), Seba Rodrigues, Manny Rodrigues and Mike Mahlangu.

What does it mean to be a community club like Vasco in the Cape soccer scene?
Clubs like Vasco have a huge history originating from the Portuguese community. They perform a credible youth development activity hosting some 17 teams.

They have always produced players and the club has a sound administrative skill. They have developed facilities that players can feel a sense of home and will always be a force in the community on the football fields

Your relationship with them when you were CEO at Ajax Cape Town saw lots of fruit, please explain how players go out on loan and how it helps both clubs?
We consistently transferred talent form their youth structure. Some names such as Mfundo ‘Hadji’ Shumana, Nazeer Alie and there have been players at all times that have come from Vasco.

What are your views on the many Cape Town teams in the NFD. Can any of them come into the top flight and what would that mean for Cape football?
Cape Town needs a minimum of two PSL clubs, three being better. We are a Mecca of talent because SAFA Western Province is probably the best organised youth structure under the SAFA banner.

There are over 100 000 registered players and this talent needs a shop front. I think three PSL clubs could also help revive the local derby culture that is so talked about in the Cape Town City days.

Can you name your perfect five-a-side team from men you played with at Vasco, Wits and CT Spurs?
Reggie Jantjies, Andre Arendse, Craig Rosslee, Rodney Bush, Zane Moosa. The list is endless and there are others just as worthy.

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