We are Young Bafana
Chapter 1 - Simba and Sihle
Walking down the road in Lwandle, Simba was happy to see his friends waiting for him. Standing on the dusty sidewalk, Jabulani, Sihle and Thando were waiting with a group of young guys for their lift to soccer training.
Though these boys were different ages and came from varying home circumstances, they all had one thing in common born out of their love for soccer. All four of these boys were fortunate enough to be able to be a part of an organization named Young Bafana Soccer Academy.
Simba had begun his journey as one of the smallest 11 year olds trying out for the team. However what he lacked in size he certainly made up for with skill. He is now 17 and doing his best to balance his soccer and training while studying for his matric. Fortunately Young Bafana also spends time on the boys education. So Simba’s Maths and English had improved dramatically over the last six years. Along with his three siblings, Simba was being raised by a single mom. His dad was never really a part of their lives and did nothing to contribute to the raising of his kids. It is because of this, that Simba has also taken on a part time job at the local spaza shop.
Ultimately Simba’s dream is to become a professional soccer player. His ambition is fueled by his drive to support his family and help his mother financially. For Simba, family is everything. In the world of professional sport it is extremely difficult to achieve this goal and this is why Simba was thinking of his study schedule as he reached his friends. Education is key to alleviate the life of poverty into which he has been born.
Reaching Sihle first, Simba fell into his role as mentor to the younger boys. His legendary goal scoring stats made him somewhat of a hero amongst the boys. Sihle had only joined Young Bafana recently and was excited for the opportunity’s being presented to him.
Sihle was blessed in that he lived with both of his parents as well as his grandmother. Fortunately both of his parents had full time jobs which meant that his Gogo was his primary caregiver during the day.
Sihle was excited for practice today as he would being finding out if he had been accepted into a local private school. This was an amazing opportunity as all his costs would be met by private donors. Sihle had worked hard to improve his English so that he would be able to be educated in a language other than his home language. He knew that by working hard this opportunity could change the course of his life.
As the boys spent time catching up on their days, the Young Bafana bus came around the corner. John, their coach, gave a toot on his horn as he drew up to them and welcomed them all to climb in to the bus. Another afternoon of soccer, education and fun had begun for the boys of Lwandle.
We are Young Bafana is a collaborative project between Goal.com and the Young Bafana Soccer Academy. This is a fictional story loosely based on real life events and experiences of the Young Bafana staff and the community of Lwandle, a township in the Somerset West area in the Western Cape.