Township boys go for goals in Gothenburg
Little team from the Boland are going to play and learn at the same time
● Dumisa Molose always offers a smile and a story as he fills tanks at a petrol station in Franschhoek, but his latest news is incredible. “I’m still coaching football to the kids, yes,” says the forecourt attendant. “We are going to Sweden.”
It’s involved around 50 trips to home affairs so far, but Molose is confident that in July he will lead 19 boys from Groendal, his small community just outside the winelands town, to the World Youth Cup in the port city of Gothenburg.
Waiting for his squad of 12-year-olds to lace up their boots — 440 pairs have been donated to the community’s Kusasa Stars club — Molose, 32, said the event would be “life-changing”.
“This is going to be a chance for them to be educated and they’ll be able to see the difference between their lives here and how other people in the world live. Even for me, this is amazing,” he said.
The tour is sponsored by the Kusasa Project that was launched in the winelands in 2006 to help with children’s nutritional, educational and recreational needs. It has built a sports complex and early learning centre in Groendal.
Tour organiser George Frett said the tour would open the boys’ eyes to the fact that “there is more to life than what sits up there on that hill”, referring to the dusty field on the mountainside where the children have grown up playing football amid broken glass and rubbish with cows and goats for spectators.
“We want to send as strong a team as possible, and we hope we can put up a good effort there,” he said. “But more importantly, it’s about them getting an education of what happens out in the world and showing them the opportunities out there.”
The logistical challenge of making it possible for boys brought up in underprivileged circumstances to board an intercontinental flight has been daunting. To secure passports, Frett has made at least 50 trips to home affairs in the past year.
“When I approached the other people involved with Kusasa . . . and told them that I wanted to take these kids over to the tournament, they said there would be no way,” he said.
Many of the boys are from broken homes, making it difficult to get permission for them to leave the country.
“They all needed unabridged birth certificates, which are so difficult to get when some have got no parents,” said Frett. “One child’s father was murdered, another five don’t have dads in the picture, and there were missing court orders.”
Coach Bongumusa “Rasta” Xulu, 37, wonders how the conditions will differ in Sweden. “The kids are technically very good, they have great skills,” he said . “In Sweden I hear that the pitches will be much nicer, so I hope they will play even better.
“They have played league football and are used to cup football, so I think they will be a good team to watch at the festival.”
The Kusasa Stars are tournament ambassadors, meaning organisers have sponsored their accommodation, entry fees and meals.
Cup organiser Niclas Freiholtz said it was a unique opportunity for children from varying socioeconomic backgrounds to learn from each other
“The tournament means the opportunity to meet and compete for players and teams from all over the world,” he said. “It’s a chance to build bridges between cultures, religions and nationalities.”
This is going to be a chance for them to be educated and they’ll be able to see the difference between their lives here and how other people in the world live
Kusasa Stars club coach