“I can’t believe you gave that idiot all your money, man. That’s not fair,” Thabo grumbled, not noticing the red convertible BMW coming to a halt next to them. “Are you even sure that he will keep your secret?”
“Hei … Ace! The boy with golden legs. It’s a pity you’re still in school. Otherwise, I would have taken you to Joburg with me long time ago,” a man called out from behind the steering wheel. His gold teeth glittered in the setting sun. It was Bra Themba, the main sponsor of the tournament.
“Thobela Bra Themba,” Ace said, his eyes thrown to the ground.
“Yes sonny, you had a great game. I think you shouldn’t be playing for these amateur teams, man. You belong with the tough dogs there in Gauteng. Playing for teams like Chiefs.”
“Chiefs? Do you think so, Bra Themba?” Ace asked with a smile, rubbing his hands together.
“Yes man. I’m telling you. And I can help you. You need money to be a star, sonny. I can help you with enough cash to turn your dream into reality.” Bra Themba paused, opening his wallet. “Here, take my card. Call me if you’re ready to leave school. They told me that you’re holding all the records when it comes to repeating grades,” he continued with a grin. The passengers in the car burst out with laughter.
Ace took the card with a sheepish grin. The car set off in a cloud of dust, blaring loud music.
“Why are you staring at that card, monna? Don’t tell me that you want to leave school. Do you trust that man?” Thabo asked Ace, waving dust away.
“I don’t know if I trust him or not, man. But I know what he said is true. I need money if I want my dream of becoming a professional soccer player to come true,” Ace answered as they strolled home.
“Hai! I think you should just forget about him and focus on school, boy. Nothing is more important than education. The rest follows.”
“I know man.” He paused, then said,“Joo! That car … it’s heavy man. I swear, one day when I’m a star, I’ll drive it.”
“We shall see, dude. Sharp bro; I’ll see you tomorrow,” Thabo said as he turned at the T-junction.
“Sharp, sharp,” Ace said, casually, but then called out to his friend again as he remembered something. “Oh Thabs! Here – take my bag. Otherwise Auntie will realise that I went to soccer.”
“Eish, I forgot man,” he said, took Ace’s bag and started running. “See you around.”
Bra Themba’s words germinated like a seed in Ace’s head as he hurried home, thinking about the dishes which were surely waiting for him in the kitchen sink. He wondered if he should go back to school or follow his dream. Perhaps this was the moment he had being praying for – the chance to escape the terrible life he was living at home. What was the use of repeating Grade 11 when he was not even sure that he could pass Grade 12, he wondered, opening the gate.
As he entered the kitchen door, Ace felt his lungs jumping to his throat at the sight of his auntie’s frowning face. He knew something terrible was just about to happen.
Tell us: In Ace’s case, should he rather finish his education before pursuing a soccer career?