Zaakir Bantom, 13, from Hanover Park has been selected to play in the Manchester Cup in April next year.
It’s England’s leading Easter youth football tournament and is played in Manchester, only a short journey from Old Trafford, Etihad Stadium and the National Football Museum. But Zaakir needs your help to get there.
The trip will cost R35 000, which includes accommodation and airfare and his mom, Hajiera Bantom, is fund-raising to make this happen.
Since the age of 4, Zaakir, has been playing soccer – a love for the game passed on from both sides of his family who are avid soccer players.
Zaakir has been a left back player for the Coach Me Too organisation for two years. The organisation, based in Athlone, provides coaching clinics for youth aged 6 to 14.
It focuses on developing children’s life skills not just their soccer skills. Zaakir also plays for his school, Nerina Primary.
The group is set to depart on April 14 next year and return on April 24.
Ms Bantom said she was extremely proud of her son’s achievement and stood behind him all the way.
She said playing soccer had been a favourite pastime of his from a young age.
“I attend all his games, and I support him every step of the way, wherever he plays I am there.
“Every parent should encourage their child to play a sport so that they can be kept occupied and won’t sit on corners. Zaakir is so passionate about soccer, and he is always driven to push more. This keeps him away from crime and gangsterism,” she said.
Ms Bantom said that playing sport wouldgive her son better opportunities in the future.
“Make your child your priority and give them all your support. Push them to do better,” she said.
Zaakir said he was both excited and nervous for the opportunity to play abroad.
“I know it will be hard work, but I am hoping to have some fun also. Soccer is my daily hobby; I love it. My friends also play soccer at home and at school,” he said.
Coach Me Too director Arreshaat Daniels said Zaakir was always enthusiastic and determined to perform well.
“He is always eager to learn and improve his skills. I’ve never had a problem with him being lazy to play or train,” he said.
The Manchester Cup tournament is a stage for teams from around the world to perform in front of English Premier League scouts, all looking to find the future stars of the game.
Ms Bantom has a fund-raiser at the Goodwood sports bar on Friday November 30. Tickets are R20. Ms Bantom said any amount that people could donate would help.
For more information or donations, call her 084 429 4384.