From street child to playing soccer in Norway

2017-05-31 06:00

TO avoid a life of crime and substance abuse, a Pietermaritzburg street child chose soccer as an escape and it has paid off.

Bonginkosi Nxhosa has been given a lifeline after being chosen for the South African team heading to Norway in August to participate in the annual Homeless World Cup football tournament.

The 26-year-old, who has been living on and off the streets for four years, said the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time and hopes it will inspire others like him to rise above their challenges.

Nxosha is just one of the youths living on the street who have taken part in activities through the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) programme called Y-Justice that reaches out to youth who have been in conflict with the law.

Originally from Tongaat, Nxhosa said his mother died in a shack fire when he was five months old.

“From what I hear my mother worked on a sugar-cane farm in Tongaat. She was a single parent so I don’t know my father either. Unfortunately, when I was a five month old baby the shack we were living burnt down and my mother died while saving me.”

Nxhosa said he suffered severe burns on his body from the fire and was taken to hospital, but when no relatives came to claim him he was moved to a place of safety.

A couple of years later he was moved to another home in Umlazi where he lived for two years.

“From Umlazi in 1998, I was transferred to the SOS Children’s Village in Grange where I stayed until I completed my matric in 2014.

“After that the village offered me accommodation, but I had to fend for myself because I was now considered an adult and had to work to support myself.

“Eventually, I left the village and squatted­ with friends in Imbali where I mixed with the wrong crowd and was accused of stealing. I eventually found myself on the street.

“It’s quite difficult to describe the situation, but life on the street is tough. We are rejected by society, people look at us as though we are not human and we are treated like criminals.

“They hurl insults at us and they don’t understand that going to the streets is an act of despair. We really face a hard time.”

Nxhosa said though he has always dreamed of being a farmer, soccer has always been his passion.

“I used to play soccer at the homes - I was always very active in sport because it kept me occupied and away from a life of crime. This opportunity means there is hope out there no matter how bad life may seem.”

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

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