Former addict provides hope

2017-03-22 06:02
At trials at the YMCA Pietermaritzburg Ricardo De-Reuck (left, coach SA Homeless Street Soccer team) and Langalethu Mbatha.PHOTO: NOKUTHULA KHANYILE

At trials at the YMCA Pietermaritzburg Ricardo De-Reuck (left, coach SA Homeless Street Soccer team) and Langalethu Mbatha.PHOTO: NOKUTHULA KHANYILE

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LANGALETHU Mbatha, a former Pietermaritzburg street child, is using his story of hope and resilience to get destitute youths off the street.

Working with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Mbatha is spearheading a programme that uses sport as a way of getting the homeless off the street.

In 2012 Mbatha found himself on the street following a conflicting situation at home after he started using drugs.

He was rescued by a programme called Y-Justice.

“My father moved me from Vryheid to live with my brother in Scottsville hoping I would stop using drugs.

“I was stealing to get money for drugs and my brother kicked me out and I found myself homeless. I was smoking a cocktail of drugs, from whoonga to crack cocaine and dagga.”

In 2013 he heard about Y-Justice, an initiative by YMCA that works with homeless youth.

“Through the programme, I was selected by the SA Homeless Street Soccer team to participate in the 2014 World Cup in Mexico in 2014, but couldn’t go because of circumstances. Again in 2015 I got selected­ and got a chance to go to Amsterdam [for the 2015 Homeless World Cup]­.”

Mbatha said since joining YMCA he has stopped taking drugs and has been clean for four years.

“When I got here I didn’t even have matric, but I managed to get sponsorship from Nomaswazi [High School] and got my matric.

“I use my story to inspire the players we recruit and give them hope.”

Mbatha recently invited coach of the SA Homeless Street Soccer team Ricardo De-Reuck to do selections in the city for the new team.

“This is the first phase of the selection process - the programme is there to offer these young people an opportunity to change their lives,” said De-Reuck.

He said the two players who are selected will be invited to the team’s camp in April.

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