Breaking the shackles of drugs through soccer

2012-08-21 00:00

SOCCER has given hope to a group of homeless friends.

They come from different backgrounds but share a common goal — they want to be professional soccer players.

Two of them, Sibonisani Ndima (18) and Siyabonga Ndlovu (23), already have one foot in the door as they could be chosen to take part in the Homeless World Cup to be held in Mexico in October. The two will be going to Cape Town next month for trials.

“I am so happy and very grateful. This could give me a chance to play for Maritzburg United one day,” said Ndima.

They recently came back from trials in Port Elizabeth where the two were selected.

The trip was sponsored by Charmaine Strydom from Harcourts 1st Realtors. The youngsters also need sponsors for the trip to Cape Town next month.

Ndima (18), from Jika Joe, dropped out of school in Grade 6. His parents’ constant fighting and screaming eventually drove him to the streets.

“My parents drank a lot. They would fight and swear. That made me feel bad,” said Ndima.

He got mixed up with the wrong crowd and started using drugs, but his life changed after he came in contact with social workers.

“It is very hard,” he said.

Despite his ordeals, Ndima still has hope for a bright future. He lit up as he spoke about his dream. “I love soccer. It gives me hope. I would love to play it professionally.”

His friend Ndlovu is also very excited about going to Cape Town.

“I am happy. I could sing and scream,” he said.

Ndlovu lost his father in 2002, and things turned sour after the loss. “I felt like killing myself,” said Ndlovu.

He was in Grade 9 at the time and dropped out of school and then started taking drugs. “Drugs made me feel like a king. I felt like I was on top of the world.”

Fortunately for him, he had people around to warn him about the dangers of using drugs and has since stopped.

Although he still has his mother and sister, he has chosen not to stay with them due to the cramped conditions they stayed in. Originally from Kwamachibisa, Ndlovu now stays in Scottsville.

He works as a car guard and makes R80 a day.

The thought of playing professional soccer and having his own family one day keeps him going.

“I want my children to go to school and have a good life. They must not repeat my mistakes.”

Ndlovu, Ndima and others are a part of a Youth Justice programme provided by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).

The programme is aimed at preventing children and the youth from going to prison.

“We approach them on the streets, others get referred to us through friends. We give them support and talk to them about issues like HIV, drugs or things that they might be going through in their lives. We also cook for them” said Swazi Mavuso, YMCA co-ordinator.

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