Heart­break for Mtu­batuba boy

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Tam­lyn Jolly

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

Tam­lyn Jolly

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

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