My Legacy – Part one 

To get a better understanding of who I am and what we stand for, here is a quick summary of my upbringing:

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.

So as a person who grew up christian, I went back to church as my mother had always advised me to. My mother believed in me and prayed a lot during those trying times. I finally went back to church in December of 2001, the community helped me with prayers. After a month I stopped doing drugs, but I still had a problem with alcohol. I continued to pray and went back to school in 2002, even though I still had a drinking problem. I began to miss playing football by that time. One day, in my grade 12 classroom in Masiphumelele High School I said to my friend and classmate M.Ngcwama (aka Mavala), “I need to go back and play football”. But Mavala just laughed at me, he did not believe I could make it. I kept saying the same words for a couple of weeks to him.

Several months later in 2003 Mavala said that he has a neighbor, Mr. Mashayela, who might borrow us some football jerseys and that we should talk to him. Straight away, he was happy to help us. So, we recruited all our friends from the tavern, school, and the street I grew up on.

Everybody was enthusiastic during the week. But none of us were to be seen on the matchday- weekends. Those who did not drink suffered and started to leave the club we had just created.

By August 2003 a few of our players who remained at the club decided to quit as well, leaving me alone with nothing but a ball, that was given to us by the same man who borrowed us the Jerseys. My youngest brother Abo used to follow us to watch us train in the Wetlands. The Wetlands are an area below sea level in the deep of Masiphumelele where it is dry in summer but where you will get wet feet during winter. When those last players left for good, I said to my brother and his friends: “Go to Kolobe Street and call your friends to come and train until this ball gets too old. Then, after that ball is used up, we can all quit”.

After the first day of training with those boys (about eleven altogether between the age of 10 & 12), 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 got worn 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 game against New Castle. 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 cause the game ended at 1:1 after we had come back to draw in the last 5 minutes. Junior teams, back then 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, as I had promised. I went to them and lied, saying the game was canceled. The look on their faces: I knew that I had to change!

These 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 got on 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 shocked, while I was out drinking, I had not only forgotten time but also the day: That day was a Sunday. I knew that they would need a place for their weekly services. 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, which was long overdue.

“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

My Legacy – Part two 

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

In 2018 I started the surfing program in addition to soccer. I met the first group of boys who wanted to learn surfing at the job I had back then at “Gap Year South Africa”. Jessica Gould who was my employer was running the “Ubuntu Surfing Program”. But she had to quit it that same year.

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 money for 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 so many new members. Boys and girls, young and motivated kids. They are enthusiastic about surfing and cannot wait to tame the ocean’s power by ridings South African waves.

One Response

  1. I am proud of saying that i am one of the young people that is involved in this development of these young children . JUSTIN BAILEY❤

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