Oscarine is destined for greatness – gran
Baroka keeper celebrated at a music festival
Maria Sithole, 83, always knew that her grandson Oscarine Masuluke was destined for greatness.
Masuluke, the 24-year-old Baroka FC goalkeeper from Nwamankena village in Limpopo, made history by becoming the first African to be nominated into the top three of the prestigious Fifa Puskas Awards.
Masuluke was nominated based on his impressive overhead kick during a November 2016 drawn match against Orlando Pirates.
Even though Masuluke did not win the main prize, many fans still consider him a hero.
When the Sowetan arrived at Masuluke’s home on Saturday, the structure of a nineroomed house which he is currently building for his family could be seen next to the RDP house they have lived in for years.
For Sithole’s family, the miracle happened when Oscarine and his twin brother Oscar were born on April 23 1993.
“Oscar came first and Oscarine followed. We were all so excited. It was a miracle,” Sithole said.
After her daughter Vhutisa Margaret Mdaka died in 2008, Sithole was left to raise all five of her grandchildren.
“I worked on the farms to feed these children. They are all grown up now,” she said.
Sithole jokingly said Oscarine loved food when he was small. “He loved his porridge in the morning. If I didn’t wake up early enough to feed him he would cry.”
Sithole recalled that Oscarine started playing football at school.
“He would say ‘koko, (grandma) can I have transport money so I can go to practice’. We hardly saw him,” she said.
One day in 2012, Oscarine came with a letter stating he had been invited to play for a team in Polokwane.
Sithole gave her grandson her blessing and everything changed for the better.
“He looks after me now. I don’t have to worry about food and clothing. I’m so proud of him.”
Oscarine said he was grateful his grandmother supported his dreams despite him dropping out of school in Grade 9.
“Life was hard after we lost our mother, but my grandmother was always there.”
Oscarine, who played for other local teams before joining Baroka FC in 2012, said people always complemented him on his skills .
He said the Puskas nomination came as a surprise.
“I even had trouble focusing during training sessions because I could not stop thinking about the Fifa nomination,” Oscarine said.
He was also taken by surprise when a little boy recognised him at the airport in London during his trip to the United Kingdom for the awards ceremony last week.
“The kid told his parents ‘this is Oscarine Masuluke, the South African goalkeeper who scored an amazing goal’,” Oscarine said.
He said he was disappointed he did not win the main prize, however, he was delighted he had made it that far.
“I am thankful to all those people who voted for me,” Oscarine said.
He said he had big plans concerning his career, but was quick to add that he was not ready to talk out them.
Oscarine’s cousin, Khanyisa, described him as a loving and vibrant person.
Khanyisa said Oscarine’s achievement was a big deal for their community.
“His life shows that you can grow up under the most difficult circumstances, but still make something of yourself,” Khanyisa said.
Sithole was also excited about a special music festival that was held in her grandson’s honour at nearby Giyani Stadium.
“I am going there to dance. I cannot wait,” she said.
At the stadium, artists including Benny Mayengani and Penny Penny were lined up to perform in honour of the young man.
Music was blaring from huge speakers as fans braved the rainy weather and danced the day away.
Papa Penny said he felt honoured to perform at the event.
“I am very proud of Masuluke, but not because he is Tsonga like me.
“I’m proud of him because he represented the whole of Africa as well,” he said.
Baroka FC goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke with his grandmother Maria Sithole during an interview with Sowetan at his home in Giyani, Limpopo.
Maria Sithole, Oscarine Masuluke’s grandmother, with the home Oscarine is building for his family.
Percy Mfana with his dancers Hloni and Njabulo during the music festival for Fifa Puskas nominee Oscarine Masuluke at Giyani Stadium on Saturday.