Meet the Dreamers
Promise Khoza – October 2009
After more than 70 DreamEvents, we can safely say that we’ve seen quite a few young footballers, and some of them can really play. But we haven’t seen anyone quite like Promise Khoza. This young girl from Welverdiend in Mpumalanga was part of the Matikinya Primary School team that won the inaugural Wild About Soccer tournament at Skukuza last year.
Matikinya then went on to become the Mpumalanga under-14 champions and we weren’t surprised to see them back at Skukuza to defend their title. The school has produced a girls team that is strong all-round, but Khoza on the day of the finals was simply remarkable.
She scored seven goals in the first three games and netted a cool penalty in the shoot-out to help retain Matikinya’s title. But it wasn’t just the number of goals that was impressive – it was the way Khoza created and then took her chances. Cool as you like, strong and quick, she has a great future in the game.
Mohau Mosea – September 2009
Mohau Mosea has grown up with hills around him – his home is in Phuthaditjaba, in a mountainous part of the eastern Free State. This student from Mmabatho Secondary is a member of a soccer-mad family and is eager to start climbing a mountain of his own.
Mohau’s dream is to play in the PSL one day and he’s made a good start, starring as a central midfielder with local club Spurs FC, who play in the Vodacom League. His brothers Simon and Paseka have helped to blaze a trail as players for Carara Kicks in the National First Division.
Dreamfields met up with Mohau at the tournament we staged in partnership with the Beyers Naude Schools Development Trust and the Claude Leon Foundation. “Mohau’s school didn’t win,” says Dreamfields Silas Mashava, “but he stood out as the class player of the DreamEvent. You can really see that he understands the game.”
Mohau describes his mother, Emily, as his greatest supporter and says he can’t wait for the World Cup and the arrival of the greatest players on the planet. “I would like to become a successful soccer player and then use that to give something back to my community.”
Our DreamEvent, we hope, will have given him some inspiration. “This tournament is the biggest soccer event I have taken part in to date. I have learned a lot from playing against different teams,” he says.
Nthabiseng Manko – August 2009
When Nthabiseng Manko started playing soccer last year, she probably never thought that she would soon be running round a packed Botshabelo Stadium with her team mates, proudly holding up a trophy to 20 000 cheering fans.
The 12-year-old midfielder was part of the Khotatso Primary School team that won the Old Mutual Mangaung Cup DreamEvent, which was played over 2 days. Nthabiseng creates more goals than she scores and it was her leadership that took the team through the first day’s tournament to secure them a place in the final.
In that match, played at her home stadium in Botshabelo as a curtain raiser to the Mangaung Cup – which featured top PSL teams, Swallows, Ajax, Black Aces and Celtic – she once again starred as Khotatso squeezed out an exciting 1-0 win.
“I have two brothers who help me with soccer and with my understanding of the game,” she says. “We practiced a lot before the event every afternoon to make sure that we do our best. We won because we were strong in defence and attack and thanks to my friend Kabelo who helped me a lot in playing my best.”
Nthabiseng says she would like to play for Kaizer Chiefs one day but her passion is in helping others. “I want to be a doctor when I grow up so I can help those who are sick.”
Zukile Magxunyana – July 2009
When the young footballers of Faranani Primary arrived to compete in a 16-school DreamEvent at Moletsane in Soweto, they were up against new opponents and a new level of competition. Striker, Zukile Magxunyana put it simply: “I have never played in such a big event before”.
Faranani became part of the Dreamfields Project when financial services company, Blue Platinum sponsored a five-team DreamEvent in another part of Soweto. The Faranani boys didn’t do well on the day, but somehow the kit inspired the team to go an eight-game unbeaten run that took them to the top of the league.
And 12 year old Zukile is a major reason why. With a cool head and deadly left foot, he rattled in six goals on the day, including the winner against last year’s Moletsane DreamEvent winners, Donaldson Primary. Zukile’s dream is to one day play like Cristiano Ronaldo – the World Footballer of the Year would agree that he’s made a pretty good start.
Litha Nohasha – June 2009
Each Dreamer of the month is a special young footballer, but this month’s player is extra special. Litha Nohasha of Nomlingeleselo Primary in Guguletu Cape Town was the star of our DreamEvent held at the Ikamva Academy - home of Ajax Cape Town – and sponsored by Mango and Tempest.
He was, as it turns out, the 10 000th young South African to receive kit from Dreamfields. And the softly-spoken young boy with the deadly left foot marked the day by scoring four goals on the day.
Quiet off the field, but a bundle of energy on it, Litha wasn’t able to cap his day with a gold medal. Nomlingeleselo lost 2-1 in the final to Liwa Primary. But this young man’s soccer dreams have definitely taken root. Who knows what fruit they will produce?
Thabang Mofokeng - May 2009
Penalty shootouts always test football players to the limit. But this was a shootout unlike any other. The schools taking part in the launch of our DreamField at Mandlazini in Richards Bay had already been put under pressure by the rain that fell throughout the DreamEvent – great for the grass but not so easy for the players.
And by the time we reached the boys final, between Brackenham and Floraton Primary, most people were thinking about finding themselves somewhere dry to sit. But the crowd gathered behind the goal was simply unable to move. Both teams played attacking soccer, but neither could come up with a goal. And so we went to penalties.
The Floraton goalkeeper Menzo Mkhize was in brilliant form and twice made great saves. But somehow Brackenham hung in, and each time a penalty taker stepped forward, captain Thabang Mofokeng – who had scored with his kick – sent his teammate off with encouraging words.
Five penalties, then five more and still no result. It took 14 penalties each before we got a result and Brackenham ended up winners. Mofokeng had to take a second penalty and scored with that one too – a real captain, growing the dreams of his team.
Olivia Gardy - April 2009
Everyone who has ever played football dreams of scoring a goal in a cup final. Olivia Gardy of Plettenberg Primary went one better than that at our DreamEvent in Plettenberg Bay. Up against The Crags in the final, she was the player to watch – Olivia had been scoring throughout the tournament.
But even with tight marking, she broke away twice and scored the goals that won the trophy for Plett Primary. And earned Olivia the player of the tournament prize.
The stars of Thetha Secondary
Right from the moment that the Dreamfields Project was launched, we were made aware of the power of dreamers — some of them individuals, some playing as a team.
The Dreamfields Project was launched a wet and windy day in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg and for a couple of hours we were forced under cover by thunder, lightning and rain. But nothing the heavens could throw at them were going to deny the footballers of Thetha Secondary their moment in the spotlight.
When they arrived at the Chris Hani Sports Complex earlier in the day, they were in for a surprise. Expecting to play against another local school, they were told that top professional club Moroka Swallows had sent their under-19 team to grace the launch — and Thetha Secondary had been lined up to play against them.
It was the last match of a memorable day, and it was clear from early on that something special was about to happen. The boys from Thetha matched their junior pro opponents in a remarkably skilful match, given the pools on the pitch left by the rain. And with the scores level with three minutes left, Thetha's 18-year-old striker Thabiso Mapisa chipped the ball over the Swallows keeper, swerved past him and rattled in the winner — a goal worthy of a cup final.
It was a fitting way to end the day — the sun had come out again, the field was lined by young footballers in brand new kit and out on the pitch a group of boys had showed a much stronger team just what they could do if someone invested something in their potential. This, we all agreed, was exactly what Dreamfields was all about.
A diamond named Jade
Hardly a week passes at the Dreamfields Project without someone making our hearts soar. But the day we made contact with eight-year-old Jade Neser was truly special. Most young children — most people actually — look forward to their birthdays by wondering what they might get. But as Jade's birthday drew closer, she was wondering what she could give.
Instead of getting presents from her friends, she asked each of them to give her money instead — so that she could buy a DreamBag of soccer kit for a school that couldn't afford it. “All I wanted,” she said, “was for everyone to be happy and enjoy soccer.”
Giving on your birthday instead of receiving has always been a tradition in Jade's family, with the children forgoing presents and giving the money they get instead to a charity. “This is what our children learnt from a young age, giving to the less privileged,” said Jade's mother Debbie Lee.
Jade's friends who came to the birthday party contributed most of the money for the DreamBag, and her brother Joshua — a soccer fanatic — helped out by selling his playstation. And so on a perfect autumn afternoon, a busload of young boys from Ivory Park, an informal settlement north of Johannesburg, arrived at Jade's school, Kyalami Prep, to receive their DreamBag and play a match in their brand new shirts and boots.
Kyalami Prep won the match but nobody seemed to mind, least of all Ivory Park teacher Isaac Nyakale. “This DreamBag will go a long way in encouraging our boys to work even harder,” he said.
Playing at Home
There is one resource that can be found in even the smallest villages of South Africa, no matter how poor — and that resource is remarkable individuals. One such individual is Vhonani Mufamadi, chief executive officer of the Ideco Group, an identity management company. Mufamadi's company, which is at the cutting edge of using fingerprints — and fingerprint technology — for access to buildings and information, last year listed on the JSE. And Mufamadi decided to mark that occasion by putting R750 000 into the Dreamfields Project, to be invested in his home village of Tshisahulu in rural Venda.
Some of the money went into providing 10 schools in the area with equipment and kit. But the bulk was spent on giving the children of his village the kind of playing field that he never had as a soccer-mad kid.
“I had a gardening job at the local hospital on the weekends and with the money I saved from that I bought a plastic soccer ball,” says Mufamadi, second from left in the picture above. “I was a player but by no means was I the most outstanding. Being the owner of a ball had certain advantages: you could own the team and, of course, you could pick yourself to play.”
“For many years, the playing fields there today remain as appalling as they were when I used to own a team,” Mufamadi said. “That's why I want to improve the condition of youngsters in that part of the world. I don't want things to never change. Dreamfields was a simple and very effective way of doing just that.”
Mufamadi now dreams of upgrading the fields he has built, and hopes to convert one of the pitches to synthetic grass.