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CityPress - - News - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

umisani Ntombela laughs in the face of ad­ver­sity.

When oth­ers re­fused to play soc­cer with him, he started his own team. When he no­ticed teenage preg­nancy spi­ralling out of con­trol in Vosloorus, his home in Ekurhuleni, Gaut­eng, he started a girls’ soc­cer team. When peo­ple wrote off his team’s chances of win­ning a pres­ti­gious lo­cal women’s tour­na­ment, he told them: “Watch this space.”

Last Sun­day, the 26-year-old’s de­ter­mi­na­tion was re­warded when the Sil­ver Spears beat favourites and de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Alexan­dra Ladies to win the Maimane Al­fred Phiri Games in Alexan­dra town­ship out­side Sand­ton.

More im­por­tantly, Ntombela be­came the first blind soc­cer coach to win a tour­na­ment in South Africa.

“This is a vic­tory for the peo­ple who are never given a chance, like me,” an emo­tional Ntombela told the crowd. “Stop call­ing us names and say­ing we are dis­abled. I am not dis­abled; I am able to do any­thing I want to. A blind coach has won the tour­na­ment.”

Ntombela, who also dee­jays un­der the name DJ Master Devlon, said he knew when he en­tered the tour­na­ment that his team was des­tined for great things.

“I told [tour­na­ment or­gan­iser] Maimane [Phiri] be­fore the tour­na­ment that he would never be­lieve what was go­ing to hap­pen – and no one took me se­ri­ously. We beat the three-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and no­body gave us a chance. It was a mir­a­cle, and I am still over the moon with our achieve­ment,” he said.

Ntombela – who lost his sight at the age of two when he was di­ag­nosed with eye can­cer and had to have both eyes re­moved – said he started Sil­ver Spears in 1998, when he was nine, af­ter other play­ers re­fused to play with him.

“I used to play football, but I never went far,” said Ntombela. “Peo­ple around me did not ac­cept me be­cause I was blind. They called me names like se­poko [ghost] and dis­crim­i­nated against me, say­ing they could

PHOTOS: LUCKY NXUMALO

FAR-SIGHTED Dumisani Ntombela, owner of the Sil­ver Spears women’s football team that won the Maimane Al­fred Phiri Games in Alexan­dra. The games are or­gan­ised by Phiri, a for­mer Bafana Bafana star

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