WANDILE Ncqobo is just 12 years old, and he is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
Wandile, from Imbali Township in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, is a central defender and one of the key players in the Sinamuva Public Primary School football team that was crowned the Danone Nations Cup South Africa champions in June after a tough four months of qualifications.
The team’s reward is a trip to Warsaw, Poland in September to participate in the 2012 Danone Nations Cup World Finals, along with 39 other countries.
Wandile is part of a family of three. His single mother is unemployed and he has a 20 year old sister, Nonthutuko, who is currently at University of KZN, and an 18 year old brother who has a learning disability and attends at a local special school. They have recently moved from a shack to a RDP provided by the department of social welfare.
Wandile began playing soccer. Along with other township kids, at the age of five or six, using bricks as goal posts and a ball made of rolled-up shopping bags.
He says that making it through to the Danone Nations Cup World Finals has helped him believe that dreams come true. His ultimate dream is to study Electric Engineering. “I would like to help my community whenever the power is down. We struggle a lot, especially in winter time like now,” he says. “I would like to one day build a bigger house for my mother, with better facilities.”
Wandile believes his pace and his height are his strongest qualities on the football field. It is discipline, commitment and hard work that make a good footballer, he says.
More about Ncqobo:
FAVOURITE SOCCER TEAM: Manchester United.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2012 DANONE NATIONS TOURNAMENT: Beating the 2010 National Champions Sinenzuzo Primary School in the regional playoffs. It felt good because they had won the tournament before and that gave us confidence.
WHAT YOU LEARNT FROM/DURING THE TOURNAMENT: The coaching clinic with Neil Tovey was by far my best moment. I learned that team work plays a major role in the success of the team.
THE TRIP TO POLAND: I look forward to being on an aeroplane for the first time and to seeing Zenedine Zidane. Hopefully he will play with us like Neil Tovey did, all I want is to shake his hand and maybe have a picture taken with him.