Ndumiso Nene (34) comes from such a family. Thanks to Christian values that his mother instilled in him, today as a man living with a disability, he finds solace in the word of God. Over and above that, he can still play soccer with able bodied soccer players.
Nene was born and raised in Nquthu, in a rural village called Slotshana, in Kwazulu Natal. “I grew up in the rural areas where there are no opportunities. I grew up just like any other child from an underprivileged background,” Ndumiso tells Rise ‘N Shine.
“Thanks to my Christian values, in my adolescent years, I never touched alcohol,or partied hard with friends. To this day I am still a teetotaller. But another thing that has shaped my character is soccer,” he recalls.
Nene says from as young as 11 he was already donning a soccer jersey, playing against polished soccer players, some of even older than him. He says there were soccer stars in the village who were promising players, but coming from the rural background has denied them opportunities. “I never stopped playing soccer, even after relocating to Joburg to find a job.
He added: “At the same time I had hoped that someone would spot my soccer talent. Sometimes as a soccer player when you move to an urban area, you realise that the standard of soccer is higher than that of the rural areas.” According to Nene, his move from home to Johannesburg gave him an opportunity to polish his soccer skills.
He joined a team called De Loxion Pope in Heidelberg. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, he was involved in a horrific accident that left his right arm amputated just below his elbow. “I stayed in the hospital for two months, and by the grace of God, in the third month I was released. I never lost hope that one day I’ll become a professional soccer player. I went on trials to soccer teams such as Witbank Black Aces, and African Warrior in the Free State provinces,” he recalls.
Ndumiso spent up to two months with African Warriors; where he says he mastered his soccer skills.”
Some of the players that I played with have already played in the PSL. My last trials were with the reserve side of Mamilodi Sundowns, and the coach was David Notoane. There I was hoping for the best. Then it became clear that some people will judge your skills based on your disability and decide not to give you a chance. All I needed was a chance to showcase my soccer skills; even if it was only for one season. Not a favour, I didn’t want them to do me a favour,” he says.
To this day, Ndumiso is still competing against able bodied soccer players. “In KZN, most people know me as the best soccer player for a team called Ngulube. Even this month on the 25th, I’ll be playing. Despite having a disability, I can outplay many players. Even those who are signed professionally,” he continues.
Ndumiso says what keeps him motivated is his close relationship with God. He says his mother who is a devout Christian, and is another his pillar of strenght. “There were times in adolescent stage when I strayed, I was involved in fights. I couldn’t control my temper. Then if something like that happened, my church members would come and fend me off,” he recalls.
After my accident, it wasn’t easy. My mother then once said to me: ‘Yes, what has happened to you is painful but sometimes we even ask ourselves if you wouldn’t be winding up in jail because of all those fights you used to be involved in,” Ndumiso says.
Ndumiso believes that God won’t give you more than you can handle. He says he was lucky enough to cross paths with some people who motivated him. Besides flexing his muscles playing soccer, Ndumiso know how to flex his vocal cords. His dream is to become a gospel singer, or put his foot in the door by releasing a hiphop single. “I am still trying to contact people like Big Zulu to see if he can’t help me,” he says.