“Hey, Benni McCarthy,” Khaya shouts, “are you playing with girls now that you’ve been dropped?”

Khaya seems determined to block our way.

“You’re just jealous,” Rose says.

“My dad owns the biggest taxi business around,” Khaya says, “and I’m top scorer in the Streetskillz so far, what do I have to be jealous about?”

“Maybe because girls don’t walk with you – they run away from you.” 

I know it’s a stupid thing to say, but I can’t help myself.

“Hayi, voetsek” Khaya swears, walking up and sticking his face right in front of mine.

“You’re a tough guy now that you have this little piece of tomboy trash next to you?”

“Talk about her like that again and I’ll show you how tough I am,” I growl, pushing Khaya in the chest. 

Khaya is solid, muscular and is much bigger than me – and he’s looking for a fight. As I push him I know I’ve made a big mistake.

Khaya grabs me roughly by the shirt. 

“Now let me show you how I really play soccer,” he says, “but this time you’re the ball.”

“Two little boys fighting,” a voice says from behind us. 

We all turn to see the Professor, wearing an old velvet jacket and a French beret and looking serene.

“Who are you calling a little boy, old man?” Khaya snarls.

“Well I just think that only little boys fight in the dirt, real men have other ways to sort out their differences.”

Khaya lets go of my shirt. I can see he feels embarrassed by the professor’s words. 

“So how do real men sort things out then?” Khaya demands viciously.

“How about a soccer skills challenge between the two of you?” the Professor says. “Unless of course you’re scared you’ll lose?”

Khaya laughs. “Lose to this little boy?” he says pushing me again, “I don’t think so. You name the time and the place and I’ll be there.”

“Tomorrow at four on the field,” the Professor says.

I’m grateful that I’m not about to get beaten up, but now I have a terrifying new challenge – a soccer skills challenge against the Leopards’ best player! What is the Professor thinking?

Image: Adam Henning, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Nathi is often bullied by Khaya. What advice can you give him to help him deal with it in a constructive way?