An avid soccer player with aspirations to make it to the big league has the opportunity of a lifetime, but he needs help getting there.
Lutho Dungulu (18) from Portlands grew up in the Eastern Cape and found his love for the sport in a less conventional way than others.
“I started playing soccer at a very young age, but in the Eastern Cape there is no football development, so I only started playing competitive football when I moved to Cape Town at the age of nine,” he says.
“Back in the villages of the Eastern Cape my family would listen to soccer on radio because there was no TV. I would be the youngest among them listening, so the passion is something that has always been there. There was no push for me to love the game – I guess I can say it is a passion I was born with.”
After moving to Mitchell’s Plain at the age of nine, and went on to realise his dream of playing competitive soccer, albeit on a small scale.
“What keeps me playing is the passion and dream of becoming a professional footballer. That motivates me a lot, especially when I go to the stadiums. Seeing those players really makes me keep on working hard because that is where I would like to be soon,” he says.
Dungulu who plays for Cape Flats Football Academy was recently selected to play in a tournament in Italy.
“Soccer schools were invited to send players to a one-day trial at Wynberg Boys’ High School and I was one of the two players selected from my school. We had to participate in tough test matches of about four rounds and I managed to make it through all the rounds to form part of the squad that will be playing in a famous tournament in Italy called the San Marino Cup, where there will be scouts out to get talent,” he says.
The tournament will be held in June and costs around R30 000 per person.
“Going to Italy would really mean a lot to me, my school, family and everyone who has been watching me work hard to make sure I am always ready for any opportunities that come my way. This will not just be a tournament for me, but an opportunity for me to showcase my talent and what South African footballers can do. This to me is a life-changing opportunity,” he says.
Dungulu still needs to raise R23 000 and is calling on members of the public to assist him in making his dream a reality.
“I would like to thank my soccer school coach, Mark Antonels, for recognising me as a player who can compete and for sending me to the trails. I also want to thank my mom, Nokutula, for her efforts and for always waiting until 18:00 for me to come back from school matches. Without her support I would not be the developed player I am today,” he says.