Striker Lyle Foster has a story of encouragement to tell aspiring footballers less than three months after turning professional.
The lanky frontman was an amateur footballer just over three months ago, but he finds himself rubbing shoulders with his heroes in the PSL following his promotion to the Orlando Pirates senior team at the start of the campaign.
Foster was handed a three-year deal by the Sea Robbers just a few weeks after Tendai Ndoro left for Saudi Arabian club, Al Faisaly.
Speaking to Goal at the launch of the 2017 Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge in Soweto on Monday, Foster described the feeling of being part of the Bucs first team as 'crazy' as he's still coming to terms with his success.
Foster is one of many PSL players who came through the Walter Sisulu games. He was two years old when Mike Ntombela's team, Senaoane Gunners, won the first edition of the tournament 15 years ago, but through his hard work, Foster made a big jump from playing development football to joining one of the biggest clubs on the continent in Pirates.
“It’s crazy; that’s the only way I can describe it because just three months ago I was still playing U17 tournaments – playing in the Engen and all these renowned development tournaments that unearth youngsters. To be playing in the PSL now is crazy and I don’t know how to take it, but I’m just happy and I thank God for the opportunity. Hopefully I can grab it with both hands now that I’m playing for a huge club like Orlando Pirates and hopefully make my mark,” Foster told Goal .
In recent years, very few PSL coaches showed belief in inexperienced youngsters, but Foster isn’t deterred. He's confident that he can make a name for himself despite being in the early stages of his football career.
The 17-year-old marksman admitted that seeing Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Wiseman Meyiwa and Bidvest Wits attacker Kobamelo Kodisang shine for their respective clubs inspired and motivated him even before he could become a professional footballer.
However, Foster said his main objective is to break into the Pirates starting line-up and feature regularly under head coach Milutin Sredojevic now that he has been given the opportunity to play at the highest level of South African football.
“I remember watching the  Carling Black Label Cup, and you know Wiseman Meyiwa from Kaizer Chiefs, he’s only 18 years old – and that inspired me to say ‘if he can do it, why can’t I?’… Kobamelo Kodisang, he’s playing for Bidvest Wits at the age of 18. So, these are the things that motivate and influence us to say ‘If they can do it, why can’t you?’ So, that was my motivation to try and work hard and try to get there,” he said.
“Luckily I’m here now, but that’s not the main goal. The main goal is to try and be in the starting XI, and try to play every weekend,” concluded Foster.
While Pirates vehemently denied any knowledge of Foster recently going for trials at French Ligue 1 giants AS Monaco, Goal has since established that the reports were actually true, although the player was non-committal when asked about it.
Foster returned from France a few weeks ago to finish his Grade 11 exams, but it is unclear as this stage whether or not he will be going back in the near future.