Heartbreak for Mtubatuba boy
OWETHU Mhlongo’s dreams were shattered on Tuesday as he watched his fellow Mtuba Football Academy (MFA) teammates jet off to Ireland, leaving him behind.
The U/13 soccer player was one of 13 players from Mtubatuba included in the squad to play in an international tournament hosted and organised by Dublin-based developmental football club, Larkview FC.
All the boys’ passports were due to be ready at Mtubatuba Home Affairs on Monday morning but when Owethu’s mother went to fetch his, it had not been included in the bundle with those of his teammates’.
She was advised to return the following morning, but when she did so, it had still not arrived at the local Home Affairs branch.
A distraught Owethu was forced to stay behind and miss out on the exciting opportunity of playing soccer abroad and the opportunities that entails.
IN a change of fortune for Mtuba Football Academy (MFA), a squad of their 13 best U/13 players on Tuesday headed to Ireland to compete in a developmental tournament.
Larkview FC, a developmental club based in Dublin, is hosting the event to celebrate its 80th anniversary.
‘It was such an honour to receive an invitation to this international event,’ said MFA Head Coach, Sheldon Hughes.
‘This is an amazing opportunity for our young players to compete against some strong international teams, and our guys are looking forward to it.’
The only African team, MFA will play against fellow U/13 developmental sides from Poland, Italy, Spain, Ibiza, Malta, England and hosts Larkview FC.
The Mtuba players will go headto-head against some strong sides, including England’s Liverpool 4 Football Academy, a feeder for Liverpool FC.
The tournament runs from today (Thursday) to Saturday, with MFA’s first game against Malta national team and their second against Larkview FC.
On Friday, MFA is set to play against Oxford Futsal followed by the Liverpool team.
The 10 teams are divided into two groups, all of whom play against each other on Thursday and Friday.
The top teams from the group games will go through to the semi-finals scheduled for Saturday morning and the final for Saturday afternoon.
‘I believe some talent scouts will attend the tournament so this could turn into the opportunity of a lifetime for our players,’ said Hughes.
‘It is only by the grace of God that we are able to fly over to Ireland and we are all truly grateful and appreciative.’
When MFA received the invitation, Hughes approached local businesses and the municipality for flight sponsorship, but none was forthcoming.
‘Larkview FC is covering our accommodation and food, so it was only the flights we needed to fund.
‘Three weeks ago I contacted Larkview to say we could not attend owing to insufficient funds for our flights.
‘A few days later they got back to me and said they would be able to fund our flights.
‘We are deeply grateful to Larkview FC for their generosity, and our players would otherwise not have had this opportunity.’
Owethu Mhlongo was sadly left behind when his soccer mates went to Ireland
The MFA U/13 team that jetted off to Ireland on Tuesday – (back): Sheldon Hughes (Head Coach), Wenzankosi Delange, Owethu Mhlongo, Asanda Dube, Siyamthanda Ngwane, Sambulo Dlamini, Nkosinathi Mgenge (Assistant Coach), (middle): Junior Mdletshe, Lwandile Dube, Kwanele Mkhwanazi, Zamokuhle Mtshali, (front): Andiswa Mgenge, Sbonga Malinga, Swakhile Gumede and Sphelele Zungu