Chasing soccer dreams in Manchester

Vasco da Gamas Simbongile Nyhila is part of the sides under-16 squad which will play in the Manchester Cup in the United Kingdom, in April.

Simbongile Nyhila, 16, from Makhaza in Khayelitsha, has been selected to be part of Vasco da Gama’s under-16 touring squad, heading to the Manchester Cup, in the United Kingdom in April.

The Manchester Cup is one of the biggest international youth football tournaments with teams from around the world taking part, under the watchful eye of scouts from the biggest leagues in the world, including the English Premier League.

Simbongile, who has an eye for winning cups, received the news in September, last year, and has been training since.

A pupil at Portland High in Mitchell’s Plain, he was a part of his school’s Mr Price schools’ league winning team and the winners of the Gavin Manuel Cup, last year. He has also won a couple of individual accolades.

However, for his dream of winning his first youth international cup to come true, in Manchester, he has to raise approximately

R25 000 in less than two months.

The versatile midfielder was inspired to play soccer while watching Siphiwe Tshabalala during the 2010 World Cup.

“Siphiwe Tshabalala scored an amazing goal that made me want to play soccer for my country,” he said.

Simbongile started playing soccer in the streets of Site C, before his family moved to Philippi and then to where they currently stay now, in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.

Moving around a lot helped him meet other youngsters who play the sport and they introduced him to Tiger Boys and Juventus Football Club where he played, before joining Vasco.

“Playing for Portland High and winning all of these cups has encouraged me and boosted my confidence. It has also opened doors for me because I was selected to play for Old Mutual United but I could not go because I was already signed by Vasco da Gama,” he said.

Simbongile said he felt shocked and surprised when he was selected for the under-16 touring side.

“As time went by I felt amazing and proud of myself. I was so excited.

“I know I have to work hard because there will be scouts watching. We were told that there will be chances of being signed by teams from all over the globe,” he said.

Simbongile said he is hopeful a good Samaritan will come to the rescue and help with fundraising.

He said football has helped him to stay away from the social ills surrounding other youngsters in his neighbourhood, such as drugs.

He had words of encouragement for other young people.

“Stay focused at school. Stay away from drugs. Your attitude determines your behavior and how far you go in life. As Cristiano Ronaldo says, ‘Nothing comes from heaven, you have to work hard and believe, in order to achieve your dreams’,” he said.

Simbongile said he looks up to his mother, Nomfundo Cwaba, who is always there to support him.

Cwaba said her son is a hard worker who knows what he wants in life.

“He’s focused at all times on what he’s doing. I was so excited when I found out about the tour.

“I screamed out loud. I am very proud that my boy is achieving his dream. I went to different places and organisations for sponsorships,” she said.

Cwaba said although he is disciplined and focused, he still needs coaching, mostly to build his confidence.

“We always make sure that we go and support him. He must always believe in God and never forget his background and respect is the key to life and education,” she said.

Any individuals or businesses who are able to help Simbongile realise his dreams, call Nomfundo Cwaba on 078 972 9095 or 061 863 7169 or email Eddie Rudolph on