WHEN Siboniso Dlamini told his friends Simo and Sandile that he will be flying to Brazil to play soccer in the Danone Nations Cup world finals later this year, they thought he was pulling their leg.
Overseas travel is not on the agenda of 12 year-olds who live in dusty Emagwini township in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal.
But it’s true. Siboniso and his team mates in the under-12 soccer team of Siphumelele Primary school will leave for Sao Paulo to represent South African at the world finals from 14th to the 16th November, and it will be the first time any of them will be flying in an aeroplane, much less going abroad.
Siphumelele are the 2014 South African national champions in the Danone Nations Cup competition, which earned them the right to play in the world finals in Brazil.
Siboniso lives with his parents and younger sisters Nokwazi and Mbali and it’s their support, he says that resulted in this opportunity.
“My parents are behind me all the time. They bought me soccer boots when I began playing and my father is always playing soccer with me and teaching me new tricks with the ball. My sisters look up to me as their older brother and I try to make them proud of me”, he said.
His parents are happy that he is getting this experience that they never got. He joined Siphumelele Primary this year and loves it there.
“I love learning and being taught so school work is as important to me as soccer. I am strict with myself when it comes to school work and do all my home-work on time. My team mates are my friends at school we hang out together during lunch and play soccer together.”
He started playing soccer at the age of 5. The streets in his neighbor-hood are always filled with kids playing soccer.
“We all knew the game from watching it on TV, but we didn’t understand it very well back then. Now I know the rules and have a better understating of it. I officially started playing this year at Siphumelele when I was chosen for the team.”
Winning the national finals in Gauteng earlier this year will always be one of Siboniso’s happiest memories. “It was the greatest time of life, I didn’t think that I would ever travel abroad, especially at the age of 12,” he said. “Most of the other players are also new to the team. We have adjusted well and have grown to become friends on and off the field.”
Sibosino scored one goal at the national finals this year, and is hoping to get more in Brazil. “I love the adrenaline that you get on the field, it’s a great feeling, especially when you score a goal,” he said.
He has given the trip a great deal of thought and knows exactly what he wants to gain from the experience.
“I want to learn how to play soccer like the Brazilians, I want to make friends and I want to score at least 4 goals. Our coach Mr Ndwandwe, says he wants us to have fun and enjoy the experience and not to put pressure on ourselves. I know I’m going to learn a lot and look forward to meeting teams from other countries.”
It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime for Sibosino and the boys from Siphumelele Primary. They will return to Emagwini much changed from their taste of the world out there.
Getting to know Siboniso:
Favourite food: Chicken and rice
Favourite music: Kwaito and Gospel
Favourite subject at school: Zulu
Favourite soccer players: Itumeleng Khune and Reneilwe Letsholonyane,
Favourite SA team: Kaizer Chiefs
Favourite international team: Brazil
Hobby: I enjoy jogging, because it keeps me fit and healthy
Favourite movie: The Transporter
What would you like to do after school: Play soccer professionally. If that does not work out I want to become a doctor