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#1 Meet Mawande Majiya

My name is Mawande Majiya. I was born first of January in 1996 in a village called Willowvale, also called Gatyana, which is based In the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. I grew up in the community of Masiphumelele, and that is where I started to play soccer under Coach Mthandazo Ndabeni. 

In our community, everybody has got a nickname. Mine is D’wara and it was given to me by the kids I grew up with. It is a short form of Mawande. Coach Mthandazo Ndabeni has also got one: he is known as Coach Thomas or just Coach. Also, funny nicknames appear sometimes. For instance, “Chillibyte” and “Beef” – two boys who participate in all four programs. 

When I was a child, Coach Thomas Youth Development was a smaller sports education-orientated program that focused on soccer only. The soccer team was called Juventas. At Juventas, we did not wear soccer kits, but wore the same colour t-shirts and shorts instead. I joined the team in 2006. Playing soccer was what mattered to us, more than looking fancy in soccer kits.  

At the age of twelve, I also started surfing under the leadership of Coach Mthandazo Ndabeni. We used to surf every Friday and Saturday,  and then we’d have our matchdays as well where we would show what we’ve learned during the week. Looking back, I realize that routines and responsibilities, which are always part of sports, have used up most of my free time and kept me busy. As a child or an adolescent, being busy, and not being bored, is very important, especially in an environment like Masiphumelele. The less time you waste by standing around in the streets observing bad habits such as drug abuse or violence, the better it is for you. Coach Mthandazo realized this a long time ago, so he kept not just himself but us kids busy as well.  

In 2010, during the soccer World Cup, we went to the Cape Town Stadium to watch France against Uruguay. Days like this one count as my best and most outstanding memories of that time. Coach Mthandazo Ndabeni would take us to places where we would never expect to go or did not even know of.

While I grew older, I witnessed players come and go. Once they reach a certain age, bad habits take their attention away from soccer. That is the main reason why we struggle to form a strong senior team today. The players will be found in the taverns instead of on the field. I thought the end of my club, renamed Young Stars FC, had finally come, but younger motivated players filled in the gaps. Now I realize that there will always be young and eager players who need guidance and coaching, not only in sports but also in life. After the team had split up, Coach had to let us go to play for other teams. At first, I played for a team called Meadowridge in 2012, then I joined the team Most Wanted, after which I decided to take a break from soccer. 

When I picked up my boots and entered the field again, I did it for the first team of Fish Hoek Pirates at the age of 19. Unfortunately, soccer, maybe due to my break, did not prevent me from getting involved in the bad habits that we as a community face on a daily basis. In my case, gangsterism was the reason why I dropped out of school in 2014.

Time passed by and I had lost contact with Coach Mthandazo Ndabeni and Young Stars FC. Coach has been busy like a bee, in the meantime and Coach Thomas Youth Development was born. But in March 2022, I met my former Coach while he was still doing what he does best: coaching. By that time, I was not working; I was not really doing anything. So, Coach introduced me as one of the legends of Young Stars FC to the younger boys on the field. My emotions overwhelmed me. I had not expected to be a legend at any point in my life especially not at the age of 26. I felt honoured, and, at the same time, I was sure that my time had come to give back to the youth. Even though I am still a young adult, I am rich in experience, and I enjoy being a role model for our loved ones who share the same story as me. I told my former Coach that I would like to be a part of the newly founded Non-Profit Organisation Coach Thomas Youth Development. Since then, I have held the position of the Juniors Football Coordinator, but I also jump in on every job that needs to be done. With joy, I watch CTYD grow, not only in members, but also in professionality, volunteers, programs, and impact on our youth. For myself, and for all the other kids Coach has trained and inspired over the years, being ‘in his hands’ is a blessing. Based on my own experience, I can tell Bagotywa Bebatsha that our mission of “educating the kids of today to shape the world tomorrow” has been successful.

Thank you for reading!