We Are Young Bafana: Sihle goes to a new school

Thando Jacobs
Sihle starts life at his new school. Will his love for football help him settle in or will it make him a stranger amongst his peers?

We are Young Bafana

Chapter 7

Sihle goes to a new school

It had been a month since Sihle first heard the news that he would be changing schools . It was a day he would always remember. Last month he had been granted a scholarship to a local private school and though a bit apprehensive, he was looking forward to all the challenges this new school had to offer. He got this opportunity after joining Young Bafana and proved himself to be a capable student. He knew that the Young Bafana Soccer Academy was not just about developing football talent. It was about more and he was going to make the effort to prove himself worthy of it. Football didn't last forever, he knew. 

On the morning of his first day, Sihle said goodbye to his family and walked down to the taxi rank where he would catch public transport to his new school. It felt strange not to be making the short walk, surrounded by his friends to his old school. He was wearing his brand new uniform which was crisp and clean. He felt proud to walk through the streets of Lwandle wearing it. Proud that he was taking the first step in achieving his goal, a tertiary education where he would train to be a doctor. This had long been his dream and for the first time he felt that this dream was within his reach.

Walking into his classroom, at the new school, Sihle was struck by how few children there were in his class. Each child had their own desk, books and stationary. In the township, supplies as well as space were always short and any stationary you had, had to be well looked after in case it was stolen from you. However here, there seemed to be no scramble to gain access to an education. Here it was offered equally to all. Every child had the same benefits and advantages of this school.

The smaller classes helped Sihle to concentrate better. Teachers took the time to really explain each concept to their learners. If one child could not grasp a concept, the teacher would take him or her aside and explain it to them. This was something which was obviously difficult in his old school. Educators worked under more difficult circumstances in the township. Classes were overcrowded and funds few. He had enjoyed his time there, and the school had definitely developed him enough, for him to be able to gain this scholarship. But deep in his heart, Sihle knew he would have a better chance at success with this new school as his springboard.

What worried Sihle most about his new school was break time. Would the other kids be friendly? Would he have to sit alone or would he quickly find a friend to connect with? It turned out that Sihle’s fears were unfounded. The minute he walked out of class, the other boys and girls surrounded him, wanting to get to know him better. They asked him all sorts of questions about his home and self, and he in turn reciprocated by asking them about theirs. He even showed his new friends some of the football tricks that coach John had taught them at training the previous day. The boys around him were not all football fans but they asked questions about the position he played and his home from home, the academy. Coach John would be happy, football did indeed unite people from different backgrounds. Break time flew by and before he knew it, he was back in class. However this time, he was sitting next to boys who were fast becoming friends.

By the end of the day Sihle was exhausted. It had been a busy day, full of learning, fun and new experiences. Travelling home, he couldn’t wait to share his experience with his friends and family. This was the beginning of a new course in the journey of his life. It was one which, though it only affected him right now, had the power to change the circumstances of his family and his very precious Lwandle community.


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 community of Lwandle, a township in the Somerset West area in the Western Cape.