Every year, on Youth Day, former and current professional footballers flock to the Chesterville grounds in Durban to support the Heroes Cup – a tournament that parades local soccer heroes and inspires youngsters to make it to the elite division.
The tournament is the brainchild of former Golden Arrows player Andile Wanda and his partners Lifa and Mafa Zuma. Over the years, professional players have enthralled the huge crowds with their dazzling skills in this showpiece.
This year was no exception as a number of soccer personalities were in attendance, including Ayanda Gcaba, Sandile Zuke, Thanduyise Khuboni, Nkhanyiso Mngwengwe, Bongi Ntuli, Siphesihle Nzimande, Nhlakanipho "Nanana" Ntuli, Japhet Zwane and Tshepo Ntsoane.
Polokwane City's Nzimande entertained the fans with his deft touches, while former Orlando Pirates and Jong Twente FC star Ntuli donned jersey No. 10 for eventual winners Ethekweni Coastal, a side that was eliminated by Pirates in the Nedbank Cup's last 32 in 2012. This club has also produced stars such as Siyanda Xulu, Phumelele Bhengu and Njabulo Manqana.
We caught up with Gcaba during the trophy presentations, and the Bucs defender had this to say: "There's lot of talent here in Durban, but the players over-drink. We all drink but you need to do it responsibly, and focus on your game. By coming here, we want to show these boys that anything is possible, they need to make sacrifices. I went to the Free State as an unknown and worked my way up. Next year, I'm planning on hosting a tournament in my hometown, Gamalakhe, to give back to the community."
We also spoke to Ntuli, who echoed Gcaba's sentiments on the abundance of raw talent in the region, and when asked about his future, Nanana seemed a bit reluctant to divulge any information thereon...
"I don't want to go into detail about my future, all I can tell you is that I'm returning to Europe," the Umlazi-born star revealed.
On the same day, Bafana Bafana star Andile Jali also hosted a tournament in his hometown of Matatiele, where a number of pro players also showed their support.
Should more players show support for football in their communities?
Article & pictures by Trevor Baker.