The coach

The accident had suddenly ended Leonard’s playing career in 1991 at the age of 31. After sixteen years of top-class soccer, Leonard was disabled.

He prayed, “Dear God, give me courage to face the reality that you have placed me in.” Leonard felt a new courage after he had prayed. He decided to return to soccer, in a different role.

“I won’t be able to play again,” he said to himself, “but I still have eyes and I can think. I will be a coach. I will start a new team and I’m sure I will make a success of it!”

Without wasting time, Leonard brought together a number of boys in his local area and began to coach them. He formed a team called Young Swallows as a feeder team for Kokstad Swallows. He thought that Young Swallows would shape and guarantee the future existence of Kokstad Swallows.

Leonard’s many years of experience playing soccer were very useful and he found that he enjoyed coaching. He was very close to his players. More and more boys joined the team, and soon Leonard was coaching teams of younger players as well.

Young Swallows was good for the boys in Leonard’s area. It taught them soccer skills, team spirit and determination. It gave them something positive to do and kept them away from gangsterism and crime.

Shoooooes 7

Leonard and local boys during trials and the formation of the Kokstad Swallows feeder teams (1996)

Many of Leonard’s players have gone on to play for their province and some of them have been successful as professionals.

Although Leonard loved coaching Young Swallows, he realised that soccer was only one of the things that he had to do. As a person with a disability, Leonard felt called to work with other disabled people.

Shoooooes 8

Kokstad Swallows at MCDPO’s Human Rights Day disability awareness event (1999).