MOST high school pupils think of passing matric, going to university and finding a cushy job.
Former Masiphathisane High School pupil Lulama “Lara” Maqoko, 18, is not one of them. His childhood dream was to become a professional footballer. The Motherwell teen, who is the youngest of three brothers, took his first step towards realising that dream when he signed for Cape Town-based PSL First Division outfit Santos this month.
Maqoko started his soccer career with Milan Stars in the N2 area in Motherwell where he was spotted by Lulama Lubisi, a founder of Motherwell Academy, and his career took off. Last year he played for the Pefa senior team, which finished as runners-up in the Safa-NMB Inter-district tournament.
Lubisi says that while identifying and nurturing soccer talent is the academy’s core business, education is non-negotiable.
“The boys must concentrate on their studies. Anyone who drops out of school is not welcome.”
Maqoko says his first priority is to help Santos regain their Premier League status. “Hopefully then I will be good enough to play for Sundowns.” Bafana Bafana defender Siyabonga Songwiqi is his role model and “I am grateful to Motherwell Academy, especially coach Mr Big [Lubisi] for giving me the opportunity.”
Goalkeeper Avelo Mahambehlala, 15, is another rising star who is playing for the Academy team in the SAB League. He played his first match for the senior team last week and was largely responsible for Motherwell coming away with a share of the points when they played Callies.