KAIZER CHIEF’S football club star midfielder, Siphiwe Tshabalala retraced his roots by visiting his former school, Phumuzile Primary School in Phiri, Soweto – to give back, in the spirit of social responsibility.
At last year’s Kaizer Chiefs Player Awards, the dread plaited Tshabalala, popularly known as, “Shabba”, was named Vodacom Player of the Season for the 2016/17 season – bagging away a sum of R100 000, thanks to his club’s title sponsor, Vodacom.
In partnership with the mobile network giant, Tshabalala decided to donate half of his prize to his old school in the form of netball and football equipment – to be used by the institution’s learners.
With teammates, Brilliant Khuzwayo, Kabelo Mahlasela and Khotso Malope in tow, Shabba effected a grandiose arrival at his erstwhile alma mater as mainly young students, excited teachers, both a private security company and SAPS detail, and curious onlookers milling around the school’s fence – availed themselves to witness the affirmative moment and occasion.
“Feel free, be happy and ’Shabba’ at our school!” welcomed an exultant Esther Mathenjwa Sentso, a veteran educator of 33 years standing and also the school’s principal who freely let it be known that she taught the adult athlete who famously scored the opening goal of the home 2010 FIFA World Cup, at Grade 2 – whilst deftly taking liberty to apply her former pupil’s nickname as part of a figure of speech!
Also present was an ecstatic Audrey Mosia, a Grade 4 teacher who said that she guided the future sports star in athletics and soccer, as the school’s coach in those codes.
With minibus taxis heading to-and-from Merafe Station constantly zooming by with curious passengers looking out in the direction of the school’s adjacent netball court – the gathering was for a very exemplary cause, replicated by other of relatively comfortable standing in society.
For, by visiting Phumuzile School, Tshabalala was stepping out of his comfort zone – to participate in an exhibition game of netball between the school and yet another former school of his named, Enkanyezini Higher Primary School.
Inevitably, in order to avoid any accusation of bias, once on court, it was decided that the VIP visitor would turn out for both schools in play segments.
Donning a bib in the colours of the host school, Tshabalala lined up with the help of teammate, Kabelo Mahlasela and Kaizer Chiefs’ Digital Manager, Kemiso Motaung – alongside actual netball-playing schoolgirls.
It wasn’t long before the footballers got a hang of the hand handled ball game and Shabba was even spotted jigging in clear indication of enjoying himself out on the court. Why not? Jimmy Cook simultaneously played soccer and cricket professionally at some stage.
The likes of the club’s publicist Vina Maphosa, homeground’s Lalla Hirayama, paramedics, catering stuff, press corps and autograph-hunters looked on in a mixture of amusement and admiration!
The ‘out of the ordinary’ game served to kick off the #ShabbaChallenge, whereat the public is challenged to give back to their communities.
Vodacom is throwing its full support behind the #ShabbaChallenge with a nationwide drive for fans to also step out of their comfort zones and be the hero and heroines in their communities by giving back in any way they can.
Declared Vodacom’ s executive head of department – sponsorship’s Michelle van Eyden: “Vodacom shares Shabba’s passion to make a difference in people’s lives which is why we decided to take what he is doing in his community and make it a national drive.”
“Giving back is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping into somebody else’s situation to make a difference. Vodacom is extremely proud to be associated with a player like Siphiwe who realises the importance of giving back and we will always support such initiatives,” added van Eyden.
After the game, along with Chiefs’ teammates and the school’s principal, Tshabalala handed over medals to the winning and runners-up teams and equipment to the value of R50 000 – amid staccato clicking of photographers cameras, in an estival atmosphere.
To the schoolchildren, Shabba had elder brother advice to dispense, pointing out that since sports is a short-lived occupation, they needn’t neglect education – whilst promising that if the school was to attain a 100% pass mark, and his entourage would be back for another visit bringing good tidings.
The score line of the ‘out of the ordinary’ netball game by the way: 6-0, in Enkanyezini [the visiting team] favour.
No giving gesture that from somehow rude visitors who rained on Phumuzile’s hospitality – but since Shabba alternatively guested for either school, he didn’t loose and Phumuzile Primary School had everything to gain from an act of responsible citizenship!
The #ShabbaChallenge will be driven on Twitter (@VodacomSoccer, @KaizerChiefs and @siphiweshabba) and Facebook (@Vodacom and KaizerChiefs), asking fans to take up the challenge by posting photos and videos of themselves giving back to their communities.