Two players of Lavender Hill Football Club (LHFC) have been selected to play in a tournament in Spain – every young soccer player’s dream. But they need help to make their dreams a reality.
Tristan Hollander and Imtiyaaz Ruiters, both 16-year-old Lavender Hill High School learners, were selected to take part in the annual Alicante Cup in Santa Pola, Spain, next year from 29 June to 3 July.
The tournament is hosted by Fútbol Base Internacional, which organises and promotes soccer-related activities to showcase talented players. This tournament will see players compete in the age groups u.19, u.16, u.14, u.12 and u.10.
Imtiyaaz’s mother, Toegiedah Ruiters, says they cannot pass up the chance for her son to participate in the tournament.
“He’s been playing soccer from the age of eight. Even his coach and the chairperson of Guardians of the National Treasure said it’s going to be a big opportunity for him because there will be scouts,” she says.
Guardians of the National Treasure, the youth empowerment organisation in Lavender Hill that started the first soccer club in the area, hopes the boys will be able to make it to the tournament.
Ralph Bouwers, the founder of the organisation, says the two have been noticed locally and internationally but time is running out to get the money together for the trip.
“This community (Lavender Hill) is so broken and people just don’t have the money. So many times these opportunities are passed by.”
Struggling to raise the R37 500 required for the tournament and accommodation, Toegiedah was, however, able to secure the initial deposit required to cement her son’s place at the tournament after sending out a plea to her colleagues.
“We are supposed to have R6 000 deposit at the end of this month. Peter Koff, from our sister company, put R7 000 into the account,” she says excitedly.
The Lavender Hill locals practice twice a week at the Rooikrans Sports Ground in Grassy Park, quite a distance from their homes. Imtiyaaz explains: “There’s a field here in Lavender Hill but the people are shooting.”
The boys also practice with their friends on other days. Tristan, who started with Ariel Spurs before joining LHFC, said: “All my friends play soccer and we all play together. We know each other very well.”
Aletta Harris, Tristan’s aunt and guardian, says she’s hopeful that some kind people will recognise their need and assist to raise the funds needed for him to participate.
Speaking about his aunt’s eagerness for him to make the overseas trip, Tristan says: “I want to go into soccer professionally. She says I must progress in my soccer and stay out of trouble.”
Both boys would like to pursue careers as professional soccer players. Imtiyaaz notes: “When I was small, I told my friends I want to be like (Lionel) Messi one day and they told me I have to practice.”
But they need more than just weekly practice, they need financial backing too.