These days, Ronwen Williams captains SuperSport and is widely regarded as the country’s number one – but the journey wasn’t always smooth sailing for the goalkeeper, whose incredible journey to the top has shown that, impossible is nothing.
Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth is perhaps more notorious for harbouring gangsters than it is for producing footballing talent. Opportunities for aspiring youth were few and far between.
“One of the major concerns in Gelvandale is the gangsterism, the crime. Gangsterism itself is a sport, so that's one of the major factors. But, I come from a very close-knit family and they kept me away from all those things and soccer helped as well. So, for me my mind was made up early, that I wanted to follow my dream to be a football star – but it wasn't easy, because at that time, we didn't have many players that were going overseas and leaving PE to play for PSL teams.”
Williams who hails from a family where everyone - including his mother, had been avid footballers, had the game etched into his DNA at a young age, and it didn’t take long for his obvious talent to be noted when he started representing his province.
“We played the Danone Cup in 2002 and I represented the Eastern Cape. That was like playing for Bafana Bafana, that's how big it was, it even made the local papers. So, that's when I realized how important this is, I'm not just playing for myself, I'm representing my province and for me to have been part of that team - considering how big the Eastern Cape is - showed, that I've got something and that I need to invest more time and take it more seriously,”
Williams’ dreams of representing his country one day would take him more than 1000kms away from home, where he would go on to join the SuperSport United academy at the age of 12.
“Honestly speaking, I was scared. And at that time. I didn't know that the game would have taken me this far. I was coming into the unknown, which was a big challenge. I was so excited when I got selected, it really hit me hard when I had to leave then I was crying, my whole family was crying. It was the first time I actually left all by myself. I had to keep reminding myself that this was opportunity that the community needed, coming to an academy so I could open doors for other guys as well.”
Despite all the success he has achieved in his 16-year spell with SuperSport United, Williams, who has 22 Bafana caps, remains a Gelvandale boy at heart.
“I've remained the same boy, I've always been. I still have my same friends that I grew up with. So I haven't let the limelight get to me and I think that's the main thing, to be humble once you have all the success. To stick with the people who were there from the start.”
Ronwen Williams… a true example of – Impossible is nothing.