When the South African Schools Football Association (SASFA) team boards the plane for the Phuket Cup in Thailand later this year, 14-year-old Mogamat Riyaadh Hartley hopes he will be among them.
The Old Mutual Academy player is eager to showcase his footballing talents abroad but standing in his way is the R24 000 needed to pay for accommodation, travelling fees, kit and other expenses.
Riyaadh plays for the Pinelands-based Old Mutual Academy, attends Rylands High School and has been racking up football awards from an early age.
Among his awards is an excellence award in 2013, most improved player in 2014 and most recently, he walked away with the sportsman of the year award in his last year at primary school level.
“One day I would like to become a professional soccer player and provide for my family and give back to kids like me,” Riyaadh proudly said.
This is the second year in a row Riyaadh has been selected for the SASFA team, after his mom, Wageeda, was called in June to inform him that he made the team once again.
“We are very proud of him and proud that he is so dedicated to his soccer,” said Wageeda, gleaming with pride.
She said it was difficult to raise the funds for her son as she is currently without any work.
She said Riyaadh remained dedicated to his football and he worked hard.
“He has achieved so much in the last eight years of his playing career and we are so proud of him and we are his biggest supporters. He has never missed a practice or a game since he was six years old.”
Riyaadh commented on his latest achievement and said: “I was extremely excited and proud of myself to have made the SASFA team again, for the second year in a row. This is a big opportunity for me because I could get scouted in Thailand.”
Despite soccer being his main passion, Riyaadh also has an interest in motorcycles and cars, having already clocked up hours under the hood of his parents’ vehicle, carrying out the routine services.
“My strength when it comes to football is, I never give up and I’m strong on the ball and as the captain of my team, I have to be strong. When they contacted my mom to say I made the team, I was very happy and very proud of myself that all my hard work paid off. Soccer is my passion and I also like motorbikes as my hobby. A special message to all the youth is that with hard work comes success and that we are the future of this country. Keep working hard and your dreams will come true.”
The 2017 International Youth Football Cup will be staged from Monday November 27 until Friday December 8 on the island of Phuket in Thailand.
To raise the funds to cover Riyaadh’s trip, there will be an “all you can eat” brunch at Jimmy’s Prawns in Canal Walk on Sunday September 10 from 9.30am until 11.30am.
Tickets cost R150 for adults and R95 for children.
For tickets or to donate towards Riyaadh’s trip, WhatsApp Wageeda Hartley on 072 177 5577 or call 081 788 1729 .