Local kid scouted

2017-05-30 06:00
Zaahir Witbooi (19) proudly sports his Orlando Pirates kit.

Zaahir Witbooi (19) proudly sports his Orlando Pirates kit.

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A young Grassy Park soccer player is having an exciting year as he goes for his goal of playing in the big league.

For Zaahir Witbooi (19) it’s no accident that soccer is in his blood, but this year that journey takes another step with his signing to Orlando Pirates.

His father Nazeem says the family is still amazed by this development. “We’re a family of soccer players,” he says. “My brothers and I played for the Crusaders club for all our lives and we’re still with them now they changed their name to Grassy Park United in 2014.

“It’s still hard to believe that only a few months ago Zaahir was playing in the Bayhill tournament in Belhar and Orlando Pirates invited him to be part of their Super Diski team on a tour to England earlier this month.

“Then we got the news that he impressed them so much that he was offered a professional footballer contract and is now part of the Orlando Pirates family.”

Nazeem adds that his son’s passion for the game was evident from an early age.

“As a junior his talent was spotted when he played for Milano Hotspurs when he was nine and a year later he joined the Old Mutual Academy,” he says.

“Another year went by and he was scouted by Ajax Cape Town where he was part of their junior programme for five years. After a stint back at Milano he joined the family club when he was 17.”

Nazeem adds that the move back to Grassy Park was good for Zaahir with the local coaches focusing on honing his skills.

“He worked extensively with our head coach, Theo Hempe, who advocated a positional change to right back and he excelled in his new position.

“When he was 18 he was sent on loan to Magic, a club in the Safa Western Cape second division, but then came back to use to play in the Bayhill tournament where he was spotted by the Orlando Pirates scouts.

“The rest, as they say, is going to be history,” says the proud dad with a smile.

The young professional player is thankful for this opportunity and looks forward to his time in the big league.

“I must thank my family for their support,” says Zaahir. “My dad and uncles have always been an inspiration to me and I hope I do them proud.

“It was a lifelong dream for me to become a professional footballer and the journey was not always easy. There were obstacles where some coaches saw my potential and ability while others may have had a different opinion. But, through all this, I persevered and remained hard-working with a zest to realise my dream.

“Today I am proud to be part of the Orlando Pirates team who offered me this incredible opportunity. I do not know what the future holds, but what I do know is that dreams do come true when you are steadfast, disciplined and hard-working. One should never become despondent and let your guard down.

“With a positive attitude, life will take you places you always aspired to be.”

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