Os­carine is des­tined for great­ness – gran

Baroka keeper cel­e­brated at a mu­sic fes­ti­val

Sowetan - - Front Page - By Zoë Ma­hopo ■ ma­hopoz@sowe­tan.co.za

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.

/ PHOTOS AN­TO­NIO MUCHAVE

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.

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