Bandzile, 19 years old, was born in Manzini, Swaziland and now lives in the Mpholi community and attends the Mpholi CarePoint. He grew up with an experience that is, unfortunately, very similar to many of the children whom our CarePoints serve. When he was a small boy, his father died, and his mother struggled to provide for him.
Bandzile began attending the CarePoint in Mpholi, which marked a new beginning in his life. After Bandzile began attending the CarePoint, his physical needs were supported, such as receiving one nutritious meal a day and basic medical care. When children move past the “survival” phase, their focus is opened up to create dreams for their lives. CarePoints nurture these dreams by providing access and opportunities for education and often providing occupational and life skills training. Bandzile’s story is a real life tale of survival to success.
Presently, Bandzile is doing his form four at Hillside High School. He always loved soccer and became involved with the CarePoint soccer team, which he later became the captain of. Many CarePoints in Swaziland have soccer clubs so the CarePoint youth can develop and practice the skills of teamwork, discipline, and can belong to a healthy community of children their age.
During August 2016 the CarePoint hosted their inaugural soccer festival. Bandzile’s Mpholi team had lost their first match and were consequently playing for pride, since they could not qualify for the next round even if they won the match. However, the opponents, the team from Mpaka CarePoint, had the opportunity to qualify to the second round but they had to beat Mpholi. Bandzile was playing as a central striker, but was changed from strike force to central defense by his coach, Xolani, the Sports Ministry pioneer in Swaziland.
His presence as a defender immediately made a difference in the game. He is tall, fast, and incredibly talented. At the end of the match, Mpholi won 3 to 1 against the well-trained and talented Mpaka team. Bandzile’s presence on defense made a huge difference, which did not go unnoticed, and five months later he began playing for the Moneni Pirates under 20!
Being selected to play on a premier soccer team is a huge accomplishment and speaks volumes of Bandzile’s dedication, ambition, and talent. The Mpholi CarePoint staff have stated that, “As a CarePoint team captain we are hoping that he shares the good news of Jesus Christ to his teammates and the community recognizes him positively.”
Bandzile manages to be a student, play for the Moneni Pirates and also often plays on the CarePoint soccer team. In an interview, he stated how he is able to balance all of his commitments.
“I manage my time so well. After school I attend training and have five hours when I come back home to catch up with my school work. I usually have early mornings to read or study my books. Ever since I started playing soccer I have been very productive on both sides. I was so happy to join Moneni Pirates. On my first appearance, I thought I was going to be looked down upon, but there were no critics, unlike other teams. The management made sure I was warmly welcomed and they treated me with love. It’s really a good team, though I am taking it as a learning experience because in two years I see myself playing in the big leagues. I see myself playing overseas and will surely build this career through my education, as it is the key to success.”
He has dreams like all other young soccer stars, and that dream is to play in Europe. In February Bandzile stated, “I want to be the first player in Swaziland to play in Europe or Asia.”
Please pray for protection and strength for Bandzile as he travels with his team and continues to work hard.