Our Legacy – Part one 

To get a better understanding of who we are and what we stand for. Here is my story:

When I was a kid, I loved playing football but as a teenager, I made some bad choices. It started with bad habits, such as substance abuse. I neglected football and dropped out of school. I found myself in a really dark place. Emotionally and spiritually, I felt like my soul was trapped and I needed a way out.

As a person who grew up Christian, I regretted those choices. So in December 2001, I went back to church, as my mother had always wished for me. My mother believed in me and prayed a lot during those trying times. The church community supported me. I stopped doing drugs, but I still abused alcohol. In 2002, I went back to school. I began to miss playing football. One day, in my grade 12 classroom at Masiphumelele High School I said to my friend Mavala, “I need to go back and play football.” But Mavala just laughed at me, he did not believe I could make it. But I never gave up.

Several months later, Mavala introduced me to his neighbor, Mr. Mashayela. He loaned us some football jerseys and a soccer ball. We started a club called Juventas. We then recruited our friends from the tavern,  the school, and my street.

Everybody was enthusiastic at the weekly practices. But on matchdays, we were preoccupied with drinking. Those who did not drink suffered and one by one they left the club. 

By August 2003 the few players who remained decided to quit as well, leaving me alone with nothing but a ball. At that point, I told my younger brother Abo, who used to tag along with Juventas: “Go to Kolobe Street and call your friends to come and train with this ball is punctured. Then after that ball is used up, we can all quit.”

After the first day of training with the eleven/twelve-year-old boys from the street, I told them to tell their friends at school about the club. To my surprise, I had about 50 kids at training and I was so nervous! Even though I had so many kids to train I was still into the party life and I kept disappointing the kids on the weekends because I was not available to coach them or organize games for them.

The ball finally wore out. But the kids made a plan. They asked one of the boys to bring his basketball so that we could train with it. Their hunger & desire to play and their enthusiasm was the driving force. While I only used them to wind down the clock to exciting weekends, the kids were just thrilled to have an opportunity to play.

Mavala supported me when we played our first under-thirteen games. Afterward, the kids came up with the idea of playing regularly. I kept telling them that without jerseys and no money, we were not ready. But the boys kept insisting, “We will play without any kit, as long as we can play, we are ready!

They were right, because the game ended at 1:1 after a comeback in the last five minutes. The junior teams in Masiphumelele, were New Castle, Young Pirates, Bombers and Doves, and now us: Juventas. We were the new kids on the block.

We continued playing till 2004. But I was still drinking. One day, I was at some tavern in Luntu Street in Masiphumelele and a guy came up to me and said “dude, there’s a group of kids asking to see you.” When I looked through the window, it was my boys looking for their coach,  to play their game. I went to them and lied, saying the game was canceled. The look on their faces was heartbreaking. I knew I had to change!

The kids went back home with their heads down. I went back to the tavern, but I did not enjoy myself, as usual. My heart was broken too. I felt sad for telling them lies, while the fire of enthusiasm for soccer was burning strong within their hearts.

In 2005 my mother said the church members wanted to build a shack, a house made of metal sheets and wooden planks, at my mom’s house for weekly services. I agreed and they started building. On the following weekend, I was in Luntu, drinking as usual. When suddenly it got cold, I said to Mavala that I would go and get myself a jacket from home. When I arrived at my street, I heard the sound of gospel and clapping at my house in the shack. I was surprised. While I was out drinking, I had forgotten the time and even the day. That day was a Sunday. I turned on my heel without the jacket because I was so embarrassed. I did not want the church members to see me drunk. That day I quit drinking. 

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” – Nelson Mandela

Our Legacy – Part two 

The boys and I kept on playing. In the meantime, boys grew into men. We are now named Young Stars and are now playing in every league from under 10 to grown-up teams.

In 2018 I started the surfing program in addition to soccer. I met the first group of boys who wanted to learn surfing while working “Gap Year South Africa”. Jessica Gould who was my employer ran the “Ubuntu Surfing Program”. But she could not continue teaching.

I had to do something to make sure those boys could continue surfing.

I mentioned my wish, to continue the surfing program, to one of the “Gap Year South Africa” volunteers Grant Larson, who came all the way from Montana to South Africa. Grant said straight away that he would help me. What we needed most was equipment, mainly wetsuits and surfboards, and transport. With the kids in mind, Grant started a GoFundMe campaign. He said he would raise funds and did exactly that.

We started surfing as the “Kasi Surf Club” in October 2018. Back then we were part of the “Masiphumelele Youth Development” which is now called “Coach Thomas Youth Development”.

Right now, there are many new members. Young and motivated kids. They are enthusiastic about surfing and cannot wait to tame the ocean’s power by riding South African waves.