Sanele Buthelezi is a midfielder-come-striker who is confident with the ball at his feet, who puts in clever runs, and who finishes off the chances that come his way.
And now he is going to get the opportunity to show off those skills on a world stage as part of the Sinamuva Public Primary School football team that was crowned the Danone Nations Cup South Africa champions in June after a tough four months of qualifications.
The team’s reward is a trip to Warsaw, Poland in September to participate in the 2012 Danone Nations Cup World Finals, along with 39 other countries.
Sanele hails from Imbali Township in Pietermaritzburg, and he started playing football back in 2005 when he was six years old.
In grade 2 he made his school’s athletics team and even represented the KwaZulu-Natal province. After those national championships he asked the football coach, Mr Khoane, if he could train with the team as the athletics season was over and before long he joined the team permanently.
Sanele sees Mamelodi Sundowns’ Teko Modise as a player he looks up to. “He plays my style of football and, coincidentally I wore his jersey number (8) at the Danone National Finals,” he said.
A person who has inspired Sanele is his maths teacher Ms Mamthi. “She always advises us to work hard, to be ambitious and have self-discipline,” he said
Sanele hopes to study mechanical engineering one day, and says that besides football, he also loves writing and dreams of being one of South Africa’s best-known writers in the future.
“My biggest dream, however, is of building a decent house for my family because we currently live in one bedroom shack. If I do pursue my football career I would love to play in Russia and earn enough to do that.”
“My mom, Nozipho Buthelezi works as a cashier at a local supermarket and she does her best to support me and my four siblings,” she is my inspiration and motivation.”
Sanele says the Provincials Finals were the hardest stage of the Danone Nations Cup for his team.
“I think teamwork pulled us through the preliminary rounds of the provincial finals. We struggled in our first two games and in the final we got the equalising goal in the last minute and went on to win 2-1 on penalties.”
“Playing in the Danone Cup National Finals has given me more confidence. I have learned that I can believe in my dreams. The tournament taught me to be more motivated in life.”
“Winning the National Finals and getting visit from Neil Tovey, who coached us at the school were experiences I will never forget.”
“This has brought great recognition to our school,” he said. “I can’t wait to get on the plane for Poland.”