This week sees the conclusion of our current Young Bafana Series and Bernd Steinhage, founder of Young Bafana Soccer Academy spent some time with Ntando.
Every person who comes in to contact with the kids of Young Bafana is changed. From the years of Bernds’ time with them, one of the greatest lessons he has been taught is to be happy and grateful for everything in his life. And of course, the isiXhosa lessons have certainly influenced how he interacts with people over different cultures.
From the interviews of the past few weeks, it has been easy to see a thread which is sewn through the lives of all Young Bafana beneficiaries. Discipline is key to success both on the pitch and off. It comes therefore as no surprise that Bernd speaks of Cristiano Ronaldo as a player who inspires. Ronaldo’s dedication is shown in being one of the first players on the field for practice and the last to leave. His hard work certainly has paid off and he will certainly go down in the football archives as a true legend of football.
Most of us would agree with Bernd that being an excellent footballer is one of the characteristics which is essential in classifying a player a legend. However equally important is the attitude of said legend to his behaviour. Being disciplined, behaving well and working hard are attributes which Bernd encourages in the children of Young Bafana. In our world of social media icons, it is essential that these young boys have footballers who can be pointed out as someone to emulate. We need to be able to tell our children, ‘Look at him, try to be like him.’
‘Football unites different people.’ Through the past six weeks, we have seen how true these words of Bernd are. Footballers of various ages from different countries and different home circumstances have shown how easily they connect when coming together to talk about their love of football and all it has done to positively influence their lives. Each and every interviewee and interviewer can trace the difference football has made in not only the direction their lives have taken but also in how they see their world.