Success Stories

#changinglives is more than just a motto at Young Bafana.
It's the result of hard work, discipline and faith in your abilities.

The Dream became Reality

YB Arena Opening

On the 23rd of April 2022 we reached the next big milestone: We officially celebrated the YB Arena Opening. It is the perfect facility for the development of our kids, in terms of soccer and education. Read more about the YB Arena Opening Event in this blog post.

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EYONA NDONDO

Eyona Ndondo becomes the first YB Player to debut in the South African first division

We can hardly put our happiness and pride into words. Eyona Ndondo (nickname: Yoyo) was the first player from our ranks to make it into the 1st South African League. On the first match day (continued after the Corona break), it came on August 14 in the game against Chippa United, probably the greatest sporting moment since our foundation in 2010.

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Asanda DyaniAsanda Dyani
Asanda “Zuka” Dyani

The Miracle Boy who entered Pro Soccer

Since August 2018 he is the first Young Bafana graduate who is equipped with a professional contract in South Africa. He is not the biggest. He is not the strongest. His talent, on the other hand, is a gift he excels with.

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Keino DavidsKeino Davids
Keino Davids

Keino changes to the US

Keino Davids joined Young Bafana in January 2016 as a 16 year old boy with the aspirations of becoming a professional soccer player. However, he did not expect the path to the top to be so strenuous and tough.

Fortunately at Young Bafana all children are made aware of the fact that soccer alone is not a long term solution, education is the more reliable way to create a successful future.

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Jojo, Ndondo, LennardJojo, Ndondo, Lennard
Jojo & Ndondo

Two stars in international kindergarten

Jojo and Dondo were the first two "Raising Stars" beneficiaries of Young Bafana. Dondo was adopted by his uncle in 2015 when after losing his father in a gun related firearm argument.

Their home language being Isi-Xhosa rarely exposed them to the English language which is absolutely crucial for every South African child’s future, the earlier they start the better.

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The Dream became Reality

YB Arena Opening

23 April 2022- History made! The first football academy in the Helderberg.

What is our purpose? Our purpose is to change lives. It is not to make every player a professional. It is to have an impact on the players' lives so that our players can hopefully go on and achieve their dreams.

After 12 years, we finally have our own YB Arena, and what a way to celebrate the day with staff, coaches, players, and supporters that contributed to our success story.

The open day included a YB shop where the merch was bought, live performances, coffee, and pizza, and we cannot forget the remarkable speeches from Bernd and Lennard.

The opening was concluded with a ribbon ceremony with all our supporters and players. Our facility includes two full-size soccer fields, a gym, an office and learning centre, 2 locker rooms for home and visiting teams, and 2 small artificial turf fields. 

Following this great ceremony, we ended the day with an excellent after-show party in Stellenbosch.

"When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you" - Chinese Zen Master

YB Arena Opening 1
YB Arena Opening 2
YB Arena Opening 3
Eyona Ndondo

At the age of 21, a Young Bafana player becomes a sensation. Eyona Ndondo makes his debut in the 1st division of South Africa on August 14, 2020.

""And now it comes to a debut, Eyona Ndondo gets 5 minutes (...)"

- Zama Masondo, Supersport TV Commentator

These words will be remembered for a long time.
In front of an audience of millions, a great dream came true.

We can hardly put our happiness and pride into words. Eyona Ndondo (nickname: Yoyo) was the first player from our ranks to make it into the 1st South African League. On the first match day (continued after the Corona break), it came on August 14 in the game against Chippa United, probably the greatest sporting moment since our foundation in 2010.

With the score close at 1-0, it was the 84th minute of the game when Cape Town City coach Jan Ole Riekerink, at 17:13 local time, decided to substitute two young players from the reserve team. A few days earlier, a total of 6 players from the reserve team had been called up to the professional team as part of the league continuation.

One of them is our midfield strategist wearing #46 Eyona Ndondo. In the end, it takes him
just one step to get onto the pitch at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg. He is playing his first
game as a professional soccer player. A long road lies both before and behind him.
 
 

From the streets of the township to professional soccer #ChangingLives.

At the tender age of 12, Yoyo joined Young Bafana. Back in 2012, he was part of the first team to train performance specific; our so-called Performance Teams. The entire first year was spent training barefoot. Some of the guys, including Yoyo, didn't even own their own casual shoes at the time. Our founder Bernd Steinhage remembers it well:
 
"I can't even put into words how happy I am for Eyona. Eyona walked the distance from the township to the training ground barefoot several times a week in order to be able to train. The boys were only 12 or 13 years old then. I coached the team back then - nothing seemed more important to him and his friends than playing soccer under safe conditions. The academy had very rudimentary facilities back then. There was no clubhouse, no
transportation, and no open field. We often trained on the grass of a school. I also don't remember Eyona missing even one practice. His skills on the field and strong personality quickly made him a leader. So when he was first invited to train with the professionals at Cape Town City a year and a half ago by club legend Benni McCarthy, I knew he would get his chance. Despite his debut, Eyona now faces tough challenges. Everyone knows how tough the soccer business can be, and in the end it's the players who maintain their discipline and continue to develop through hard work who come out on top. And I definitely believe Eyona can do that. My team and I will do everything for it!" - Bernd
 

Facing Adversity

About 150,000 people live in the Lwandle Township community, where Eyona comes from, most of them in difficult conditions. There will be few who have not noticed his development and professional debut.

"Of course, his success has an extremely great shine on the community and especially on young players from our academy who want to emulate him. Everyone is happy for Eyona. Nevertheless, he will also get into situations where other people from the township will ask him for money. Unfortunately, many now think he's a professional - and professionals all make millions, after all. Eyona is still very far from that. For comparison: From my time in
Germany, I know that in the German A Youth Bundesliga, young people can theoretically earn several thousand euros. In South Africa, on the other hand, you are among the privileged youth players if a club contributes to the travel costs from the township to training. It's a night and day difference,", says our former U19 coach Veron.


Potential to become a talent factory?

Young Bafana is and remains a non-profit project that, at the core of its work, we are dedicated to providing soccer and education to children and young people from underprivileged backgrounds. The sporting successes can be seen as a kind of healthy selection, which can be traced back to our scouting principle and our football-specific work. Only a few players will ever get the opportunity to take a step towards professional football. The focus remains on the holistic development of all children and young people who come to Young Bafana, regardless of individual talent.

From another point of view, we feel a great motivation, because originally we never took the approach of training players with the appropriate qualities. Today, we look back and realize what we have achieved as an NGO with only very limited resources up to this point.

Currently we have four more players placed in reserve teams (DISKI) in 1st division clubs. All of them are former teammates of Yoyo and belong to the first Performance Team vintage. In addition, we have our second professional player Asanda Dyani (2nd league, Free State Stars), as well as Keino and Lance, who are both studying and playing soccer at colleges in the USA.

What does Yoyo actually say about his debut?

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have supported me since day 1 and throughout my development. It motivates me incredibly and makes me appreciate every moment on and off the field. I will continue to work hard to make everyone proud who believes in me. Especially that goes for my family. Thank you." - Yoyo via WhatsApp from Johannesburg

Asanda “Zuka” Dyani

The Miracle Boy who entered Pro Soccer

August 2018 saw Zuka become Young Bafana’s first graduate to be awarded a professional contract in South Africa. He is not the biggest. He is not the strongest. However his talent is a gift which far outweighs any disadvantages that his size may bring.

In January 2014 Young Bafana decided to develop the first of three performance teams. Trial training sessions were organized to screen talented players from Lwandle Township.

Becoming a part of Young Bafana offers a rare opportunity for many children and adolescents to cross the boundaries of the township in order to be promoted as an athlete. This enables them to participate in games and tournaments in Cape Town. In addition, Young Bafana supplies all transport and equipment, as well as nutrition after each practice. School lessons are also provided for the children.

One of the applicants, a small, rather slender boy seemed to stand out from the start. The boy, who went by the name of "Zuka" (short form of the weapon Bazuka) immediately caught the eye of the coaches. His strengths were clearly identified in his technical skills, his speed and distinctive game intelligence. He certainly lived up to his reputation in Lwandle where he was known as one of the most talented players by his peers.

Along with his teammates of the newly founded U15 Performance Team, Zuka made the 10km (return) journey to training up to five times a week on foot. The team, coached by Young Bafana founder Bernd Steinhage spent their first year training without shoes.

Zuka’s squad was promoted three seasons in a row - to Cape Town's highest youth league. In addition, Zuka and his team reach the final of the Coke Cup 2017, South Africa's biggest amateur tournament.

Zuka has always been seen as a player who does not speak much or put himself in the foreground. He often seems absorbed in his own thoughts, often isolated but never unpopular in the team. While other players are focused on their free time right after training, Zuka is still focused on football and thoughtful about his performance.

On the pitch, he stood out as one of the most alert and communicative players. He was always exemplary in his time management with Young Bafana and is extremely respectful to the coaches.

In order to keep fit, in addition to the football training, Zuka went jogging about three times a week at 5 o'clock, in front of the school, for two hours. His dedication to his game was admirable.

Zuka loves the offensive game. One of his most popular, and at the same time most effective moves, is dribbling with the ball, cutting inside and at the edge of the box, and then finishing off with a goal full of finesse. Similar to the favorite move of FC Bayern player Arjen Robben, just on the other side of the pitch.

Another unique characteristic for which he is known in the Township, is his goal celebration. As a rule, he performs a summersault, followed by some artistic footwork.

Raised by a single mother, Zuka lives in a small corrugated iron hut along with five other family members. Supporting the family could be a challenge and so Zuka attempted to bring in some revenue for the family.

On December 16, 2015 Zuka was attacked by three criminals in the street after he managed to raise some money for his family. One of the gangsters was armed with a broken glass bottle. In the ensuing scuffle he stabbed Zuka in the middle of his face. The wound needed 24 stitches. Though thankfully, the bottle missed his left eye by only a few inches, the scar will remain a part of him for life. Zuka overcame this trauma and concentrated on returning to the pitch as soon as possible.

Though Zuka has a great love for the game of football, his commitment does not only stem from his desire to become a professional footballer. To move beyond the circumstances of his life in the township will afford his family some relief from the incredible financial strain they are under.

In the 16/17 season, the 1.65cm winger scored a total of 35 goals for Young Bafana in the highest youth league in Cape Town and received the Golden Boot Award at the end of the season.

When asked what he would want to achieve next, Zuka confidently exclaimed: "I want to play for the Kaizer Chiefs *, Coach."

* The Kaizer Chiefs (16 million members) in South Africa is the equivalent to Bayern Munich in Germany.

After hearing this, Young Bafana founder Bernd Steinhage waited for the right time and contacted the management of Kaizer Chiefs to arrange a trial session for Zuka. After some fundraising to cover the costs of the trip, Bernd and Zuka set off to Johannessburg to follow Zuka’s dream.

The head coach of the Kaizer Chiefs’ U-23 team was immediately impressed and expressed his interest after the first trial. The promise of a place in the team was not long in coming.

Zuka continued to show his determination when he first arrived in Johannesburg. For the first two months, he was unable to live in the boarding school due to an availability issue. A temporary solution was found and Zuka lived with his cousin during that time. The cousin’s home was 40km from the Kaizer Chiefs’ training ground. It was no small feat for this 18 year old from the small township of Lwandle to find his way every morning to training and home again in the evening in the big city of Johannesburg. Fortunately Young Bafana was in a position to help Zuka financially with the extra costs this incurred.

During his time training with Kaizer Chiefs Zuka proved his value and worth despite the greater competition on the pitch. He became the top scorer in the diski side and helped the team reach and win the Diski Shield final versus Sundowns.

Zuka played for the "Diski" team of the Kaizer Chiefs, meaning the reserve team, which provides or “feeds” the first team with fresh talent. In the Diski League, the other reserve teams of the Premier Soccer League are also represented. The public interest in the Diski League has grown so much in South Africa that the prime time games get screened on national television.

A TV commentator had the following to say of Zuka:

English: "He is always there; he is always in the mix. That’s why he can finish that ball because he sniffs the opportunity.”

Zuka began a new chapter in his journey in August 2018. Together with his mentor, Bernd Steinhage, he has decided to accept a 2 year contract with South African second division club, Ubuntu Cape Town FC. Zuka is currently playing with a no 13 on his back. The move has facilitated many advantages. He has more time on the pitch, has improved as a striker and also appreciates living closer to his family again.

Although Zuka is not officially a Young Bafana player anymore, he will always be a part of Young Bafana, and he will continue to be advised and regularly visited by his mentor Bernd Steinhage.

The fact that Zuka has the number 13 on his back, is testament to his hard work and irrepressible beliefs. He has come from a small township and has already achieved something remarkable. It’s a journey that Young Bafana as a training club and the residents of the Lwandle Township are very proud of. Currently Zuka is playing under a two year contract at Cape Umoya FC (2nd division) which he signed in October 2020. 

He says that his greatest encouragement is the certainty that God is by his side.

His journey is far from over. His big dream: PSG.

Bonne Chance, Zuka!

Asanda Dyani, Kaizer Chiefs
Asanda „Zuka“ Dyani
Keino Davids

Keino changes to the US

Keino Davids joined Young Bafana in January 2016 as a 16 year old boy with the aspirations of becoming a professional soccer player. However, he did not expect the path to the top to be so strenuous and tough.

Fortunately at Young Bafana all children are made aware of the fact that soccer alone is not a long term solution, and that education is a more reliable way to create a successful future. Hence the willingness and hard work both staff and players put into the educational programmes offered at the academy.

After successfully winning the league and cup double in 2016, Keino became even more intrigued by the idea of turning his childhood dream to profession. His coaches continued to preach the importance of education to him and so did his mother. At this stage Keino did not know just how important his schooling would be for his future. Having successfully passed Grade 11 and improving his marks even further in Gr 12 he was turning into a holistic scholar who excels both on the field of play and at school.

It was in 2017 that the idea of combining soccer with education would be seriously considered as the next step for Keino. Together with Athletes USA Young Bafana created an online portfolio and video for USA scholarship opportunities. 

His application was successful and he is currently enrolled at Sheridan College in Wyoming, USA on a soccer scholarship

Keino is part of the first group of graduates to come through the Young Bafana development system, imagine what we can achieve in future!

Keino
Jojo & Ndondo

Two stars in international kindergarten

Jojo and Dondo were the first two "Raising Stars" beneficiaries of Young Bafana. Dondo was adopted by his uncle in 2015 after he lost his father in a gun related firearm incident.

Their home language, Isi-Xhosa rarely exposed them to the English language which is absolutely crucial for every South African child’s future, the earlier they start the better.

Their journey started when they were enrolled at Storksnest Kindergarten in Somerset West on full scholarships in January 2016.
Before January 2016 the boys barely spoke a word of English and were hanging around the Lwandle township every day.

Four years down the line they are well spoken and comfortable with the English language. Moreover, they conduct themselves in a positive manner and are extremely happy with the new friends they have made coming from different backgrounds with a variety of cultural influence. 

As matter of fact the two boys entered Beaumont Secondary School in 2019, where they keep on improving day to day. 

The school reports confirm the above mentioned facts and Young Bafana will continue to closely monitor the development of the boys.