“I’m using the Internet,” I explain to the large angry-looking man.
“Correction, you’re using MY Internet,” the man says.
“I’m sorry. I was just using it to check out soccer news, I wasn’t on for long.”
The man’s scowl softens a little.
“Are you playing in the Streetskillz tournament, young man?”
I nod, “For the Dynamites, only as a substitute, but that’s not for long!”
The man smiles.
“Ah, the Dynamites – you have a lot of work to do if you want to make the finals.”
“You’ve been following the tournament?” I ask in surprise.
“Young man, I’m the organizer of the tournament.”
The pieces click into place. Mr. Khumalo is the businessman that has sponsored the Streetskillz tournament!
Mr. Khumalo smiles again. “Never mind about the Internet, I want to show you something.”
He leads Ronaldo and I outside.
“Try to actually guard something for a change, Stanton,” he says to the shaggy-haired security guard.
“Yes bru, umm, I mean, sir,” Stanton says.
Mr. Khumalo leads me through the office park and into a large office. Through the window I can see the sea glinting in the distance, but I’m not really interested in the view. What’s grabbing my attention is the soccer memorabilia that lines the walls. There are soccer shirts in glass cases, Premiere League team scarves and a pair of old, worn boots.
“Aaron Mokoena’s,” Mr. Khumalo says with a satisfied grin.
“So do you think you can beat the Aces?” Mr. Khumalo says seriously, “because if you don’t the Dynamites are out.”
“I think we can, we just have to keep possession. Their forwards are strong, but their defense is weak.”
Mr. Khumalo and I talk for ages about Streetskillz and about what’s been happening in the World Cup. We agree that Ghana had been unlucky, that Holland has a definite chance to win the title and that Diego Forlan is the most dangerous striker of the tournament so far.
It’s only when I glance at the clock in the office that I realize that the Dynamites game against the Aces starts in ten minutes! Thankfully Mr. Khumalo is headed there too and offers to give me a lift.
We make it there with a few minutes to spare. I thank Mr. Khumalo, jump out of the car with Ronaldo, and run over to where my team is warming up. Chippa looks at me with raised eyebrows, but doesn’t say anything about my being late. Instead he says something entirely surprising.
“Dino has pulled a muscle. You’re on Nathi.”
Image: qwghim, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0