When I was in Grade 8 I was stubborn and quiet. Every time someone provoked me I would beat that person up. It got so bad I was suspended at school.

One day Meneer Du Toit called my name through the intercom. When I arrived in the office he said, “Sit down, my kind.” He told me my mother was tired of my behaviour and said I must stop fighting. As detention, he sent me to work at the community centre in Mamelodi three hours every week day. Well I did the community work.

After two weeks he called me out of class. He offered to mentor me because I am a good soccer player and a softball player. He persuaded me to continue with sports and academics. He told me fighting wouldn’t get me anywhere, and he told me to think about what he said.

I went home and thought and on Thursday I went to his office early. I told him I would like him to be my mentor. That same day he called me to his office again and gave me some documents that needed my mother’s signature and other personal details.

When I got home I gave my mom the documents and went to change into my soccer kit. I heard her scream and rejoice in the kitchen. I went to her. “Have you read the papers?” she asked. I told her that I hadn’t. She gave me the papers and as I was reading through I saw the words AUSTRALIA and SOCCER CAMP. I asked myself, why would Meneer give me these papers instead of giving them to other faithful students? I eventually came back to earth and told myself not to poke a sleeping bear, and I would show that I appreciated this opportunity of a lifetime. All I needed was my clothes. My mother signed the papers.

Meneer Du Toit was very happy that I signed the papers. I never thought a white man would do so much for such a ‘swart meisie’. Everything was organised like my passport, flight tickets and the rest. I went to camp in June.

He was my mentor until I was in Grade 11 last year, when he resigned. It hit me hard, but I accepted that good moments never last. The three good years were very nice. I never got into trouble again and I enjoyed the ‘new me’. I am now a professional Sundowns U17 soccer player and I played for the U17 national team for the world cup and everyone is very proud of me.