DREAMS: A never-ending story

None of these guys in the picture know that I walked and ran to the airport that morning.

My uncle really tried, but in the end we had to make the decision to walk to DF Malan Airport.

Imagine being the captain of your school’s sports teams that’s going on tour? It’s the most exciting thing for a young sportsman, it’s almost like being called up for a district, provincial or national team.

It would turn out to be a life-changing and unforgettable experience for me on a personal and career development.

It was weeks after I’d returned from an Ausbildung with SV Werder Bremen, which is one of the German Bundesliga’s most popular clubs.

The Ausbildung turned out to be more of a reality-check than football development and training. Don’t get me wrong, all the training, matches, tournaments and tours were all elite-level stuff.

I returned with a lot of feedback from the coaches as well as little things that I observed and learned during the experience.

I didn’t just play soccer while there, I attended school and made real regular friends outside of the club and team-mates.

BUNDESLIGA LOVE AFFAIR

The Bundesliga is a bug that bit me back when I was a 9-year-old living eKhayelitsha with my single mom and her two younger siblings (my uncle and aunt) and nephew (my cousin).

My mother had a friend and colleague from Germany. Their friendship started during the crazy late 80’s, I can write a book about the many days and nights spent with their German friends.

We travelled by public transport everywhere, my mother didn’t have a car and couldn’t drive, so we caught taxis and busses to join the many weekend gatherings of these German people.

One of the many people we were introduced to was a primary school teacher at the German International School in Cape Town (Deutsche Schule Kapstadt or popularly DSK)

She liked my character I guess cause she smiled asked ‘how old I was’ and I was so quick to answer “9” eventhough the question was directed at my mother.

The cool thing about my mother was that, although she was crazy about respect and knowing when your place as a child, she let a lot of things slide, and that moment was one of them.

The teacher lady said “what a great child you have. Her English wasn’t great I think, cause she mumbled something in German to my mom’s friend and my mom’s friend then explained to my mother that the lady had suggested that I apply to enrol at the DSK.

She explained that the DSK had an obligation from government to have a certain number of South African kids enrolled at the school.

We did the next year when I was 10, but I was already in Grade Six at my school Lwandle Primary  School in Khayelitsha. An agreement was reached that I would join the school in Grade Seven instead of Five.

I finished Grade Six eLwandle and when we told the DSK, I was told that I was too young and didn’t come from an English-speaking school and we were advised that I continue with Grade Seven eLwandle and also join the After School program which was for township scholars so that I could be prepared for the change.

We did and while there I was also excelling in cricket and missed quite a few classes because of the many cricket development programs we were involved with through our teach Mr Maqhubela.

Mr Maqhubela then recommended that I go and write the entrance test at Bishops because he felt it was a great place for me to continue developing as a cricket player. Although he knew that soccer was my passion, he was very straightforward about the realities of our lives in the township, and that I shouldn’t focus on the cricket as it was just a ticket into the system, but that he recongnised my abilities as a scholar and leader, and that he wanted me to take advantage of the quality education on offer at Bishops.

I didn’t tel him that I was already accepted at the German School because I didn’t want the opportunity to pass. He explained that if I passed the test at Bishops, my mother wouldn’t have to worry about school fees until I finish high school.

I woke up late and missed the time we had set to all gather at school so that Mr Maqhubela could take us to Bishops. Opportunity gone!

He was pissed and made it known to me when they got back. I was sneaked in on another day to write the test wearing a school uniform of some school kwaLanga and I passed.

So I had 2 options, one was a full scholarship at Bishops and the other was the German School where we had no idea how we would pay the school fees.

I was asked a bunch of questions by the Vice Principal and head of the non-German speaking program at the German School this one day, because he said that my information is incomplete. He was shocked and surprised to find out that I was from a township school and that I wasn’t given the scholarship forms to fill out.

And it was already September, three months before we would have to join the school officially. He printed the forms and asked that I give them to my mother and get them back to him as soon as was possible.

My mother used the work resources to photocopy documents and would have them ready two days later and I sent them back.

A week later we were invited to the school and were told that we were granted a 70 percent bursary.

We had a choice to make and we chose the German School because I liked soccer and that I would learn a foreign language and go overseas.

My mother assured me, that she would make a plan, like many times before, to cover the 30 percent, but that I must promise to do my best to pass and go as far as was possible.

1994, I joined the school and two years later I was off to Germany to Werder Bremen. That was the turning point because of all that I experienced in 1996 while in Bremen, going to school and training to be professional footballer.

So now, in 2020, I’ve been blessed to bring the Bundesliga to South African homes is a dream coming true.

I hang out with some of SA best ever exports, Delron Buckley and Sibusiso Zuma, who both played in the Bundesliga and were team-mates for Bafana Bafana.

I’ve also been in studio with the Ambassador of Germany to South Africa and watch Germany’s version of the biggest match of the German Bundesliga between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

The Ambassador’s name is Martin Schäfer. A massive football fan, born in Werder Bremen and even played fourth division football in what was called Landesliga while he was a student in Münster.

There’s much more that I’m yet to experience, so I thought to reflect as we prepare to say goodbye to what has been a challenging year 2020.

3 thoughts on “DREAMS: A never-ending story

  1. Life’s truly a journey and the destination is always worth the wait even amidst our greatest challenges. Thank you for such an inspirational story Tar Mjaka

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