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Budding soccer stars give social ills the boot

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“A child in sport is a child out of court”. This belief motivated Kathutshelo Mafadza, an employee of the Northern Cape Department of Education, to form a soccer team for teenagers in Santa Zone 2, Galeshewe.

The Santa XI Bullets team. Picture: Supplied

“A CHILD in sport is a child out of court”. This belief motivated Kathutshelo Mafadza, an employee of the Northern Cape Department of Education, to form a soccer team for teenagers in Santa Zone 2, Galeshewe.

Mafadza founded the Santa XI Bullets in February of this year, moved by the everyday sight of teenage boys playing soccer in the streets. The team has since seen a significant increase in its membership.

“I pass Santa daily when I go to and from work. I saw these youngsters playing soccer in the street every day. I was fascinated by the ball skills some of them had. I felt compelled to assist them instead of just talking and admiring their skills,” said Mafadza.

“I started by arranging a proper soccer field where they could play. We started with just 12 players and currently we have over 25 boys and eight girls aged between 10 and 15.

“After procuring the soccer field, I noticed that they did not have the proper sports equipment to enhance their skills. I then bought them soccer balls and other sporting equipment from my own pocket.

“The youngsters were very excited and attended practice sessions every day without complaining. I then saved some money in order to buy them soccer jerseys and shorts. I did that not only for them to look presentable, but I also wanted to help them live their dreams as well as to build a bond among the players.”

Mafadza said the team has also gained popularity in the local soccer community.

“Despite the club not being affiliated with the local soccer league, it has been actively engaging in a large number of friendly games, playing against strong local outfits. Local soccer lovers have affectionately christened them “Ama Cheese Boys” as the team has been making inroads and has been a force to be reckoned with within the local soccer fraternity of Galeshewe.

“Our plan is to join the Sol Plaatje Local Football Association when the new season starts. There is so much potential in these young players and they have shown camaraderie during every match. Our long-term goal is to see our players playing at the highest level of the game. It will be amazing to see them running out on the field clad in a jersey representing the country or one of the national clubs,” Mafadza said with a smile.

He added, however, said the lack of sponsorship has made some of the necessities unattainable.

However, Mafadza admitted that the lack of sponsorship has made some necessities unattainable.

“The number of players and interest from other youngsters joining the team has grown tremendously. We do not have some of the proper training equipment. We had to split the group into two teams due to the influx of players. There is also much interest from young girls who now want to be part of the club.

“Currently, we are operating with only one soccer ball for our practice sessions. The two teams take turns using the ball. The latest members who joined the team also do not have a soccer kit, unlike the players who play in the matches on the weekends.

Mafadza pointed out that despite the financial constraints, the team’s focus on the game remains undeterred.

“My wish is to keep their dedication ablaze and not dampen their spirit because they are not able to play due to a lack of resources required to play the sport.”

He added that sport plays a crucial role in combating many of the negative social issues the community faces.

“These past months have shown that sport plays a vital role in eliminating the social ills we experience in our communities. To change the life of one child is to change the life of one future adult. We all need to play our part if we want to see positive change in our society. A small positive role can bear huge positive results in the lives of those who need a helping hand,” Mafadza concluded.

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