11 June 2020 – Ten years to the day since the goal that changed his life, Siphiwe Tshabalala says his 2010 FIFA World Cup thunderbolt was “ a beautiful story about a young boy from the dusty streets of Soweto, who always dreamt of playing on the big stage, and whose dreams came true”.
Tshabalala’s goal was watched by hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world, and jolted Africa’s first FIFA World Cup into life.
“The goal was the greatest moment of my life and my career. It made me realise that what I did was bigger than me, bigger than all of us, because of the impact it had on the lives of many South Africans. It united people, we were one country celebrating, one human race, and I believe it set the tone for the World Cup. It was a big moment not only for me, but for Bafana Bafana, for South Africa, for Africa, and for the whole world,” says Tshabalala.
A decade later, ‘Shabba’ is still taken aback by the intensity of the “hype” around his goal and the emotions it continues to evoke among South African and African football fans. And even when he was in Hong Kong on vacation, he was recognised on the streets and asked to take pictures with excited football fans.
“It is 10 years later and time flies, but people make sure you don’t forget and there are constant reminders of what I did on the day. Wherever I go, people still want to talk about and relive the goal. It is not just about the goal, but also a sense of how big the occasion was. We were the first, and to date the only country on this continent to host such a big sporting event, and all eyes were on us. As a player it was a dream come true – playing in the first FIFA World Cup on home soil. So we are talking about history on top of history,” says Tshabalala.
Led by captain Aaron Mokoena and coached by Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, Bafana Bafana put smiles on everyone’s faces and Tshabalala’s moment of brilliance ensured the home team surprised the football world by holding the experienced Mexicans to a draw in the tournament opener.
Tshabalala today launches an inspirational children’s book “Super Shabba”, which is based on his life and which he hopes will serve as inspiration to African children that, like he has done, they too can live out their dreams.
SIPHIWE TSHABALALA IN HIS OWN WORDS:
On the anniversary of the 2010 FIFA World Cup:
This is a day that never goes by every year without being celebrated. No matter where I am I will always get messages from people wanting to talk and relive the game or the goal, or just wanting to compliment me for what I did on the day, some just want to reminisce.
Fans don’t give me a chance to forget, they tag me on their posts or would stop me in the streets to take pictures, like when I was in Hong Kong on vacation. The minute they recognised me I had to pose for photos. Who would have thought that a boy from Soweto would be stopped on the streets of Hong Kong to take pictures with eager and excited fans?
On his humility, despite the fame the goal has brought him:
I always say to people if a situation like this does not change me and make humble, nothing else will. I have learnt to remain level-headed, because I know it is not about me. I am more grateful now and I know I have a bigger purpose, especially off the field. For me, a request for an interview is an opportunity to for someone to hear the story over and over again, and to relive the moment, and I never take that for granted.
It is again a reminder that this was a big moment for the world and I am glad I was part of it. It is important to share the moment with other people, as it may change their life in one way or the other, so that is why it important to remain humble, so that you don’t get tired of doing what could be a lifesaver to the next person.
11 June 2020 – what is Shabba up to?
My young family understands now that I belong to the world, and when this day comes, I have to go out there and share my time with those people.
I start the day with a prayer, have breakfast with the family, do several interviews, and then I go and help those less fortunate.
I have been sharing my time and goodies with people for a long time now, and it has become more serious with the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping across the world.
It has become apparent that there are so many people who are struggling to make ends meet, and Covid-19 has just made matters worse, so we help where we can.
I deliver food parcels to the needy, and this I do with the help of good Samaritans who share this vision with me – I am fortunate that I have asked many people to lend a helping hand and they have never disappointed, and then I also dig deep into my pocket.
I am very passionate about this one as I don’t want people to suffer when we can help – I can’t stand to see someone go hungry because we couldn’t help them, it just breaks my heart.
How can others help?
We come from different backgrounds, we have different challenges and those who are blessed and are in a position to help should do so without expecting anything in return. It has to come from the heart. It is certainly a feeling going to bed knowing you helped someone, being selfless.
It doesn’t take anything away from you to buy someone a loaf of bread, I get happy and satisfied when I see people smile.
Always remember that blessed is the hand that gaveth.
It is called THE STORY OF SUPER SHABBA.
This is a story of a boy who grew up in Phiri, Soweto, and always loved football. He had dreams and wanted to be on the big stage, and then he heard on radio that there were trials. He made the grade, but was bullied because of his size and height. However, he didn’t allow anyone to pull him down and he worked hard to be a superhero.
If you look at it, this is a story about my journey and the FIFA World Cup. The story is meant to inspire the African child. It is about a superhero they can relate to – an authentic story of someone they can bump into at the street corner or at the spaza shop. He is the same skin colour as them, comes from the same background as them. It is a story that says even if you had a poor upbringing it doesn’t mean you can’t make it in life – in fact that should inspire you more to change your circumstances.
I believe is important in that when we are growing up we tend to want to adopt the Western way, the faraway idols, when in fact we have heroes amongst us – and sometimes we end up losing our identity.
This book is one way of saying we are story tellers, we should tell our own stories and we should allow anyone to tell our story in our own way, so that those that read it can understand it better, as they may be coming from the same circumstances.
I believe every child get this book and that is why we need government support to ensure our history is preserved.
Once they read the book, they will learn of their own history, they will know the history of 2010 – the significance of the FIFA World Cup, how big it was, what it meant to so many.
The book is written from Grades 3, 4 and 5, and will be available in, for a start, English, Sesotho, IsiZulu and Setswana.
The book is part of the story of our journey as a family – focusing on the authentic local stuff. It is about changing mindsets one day at a time.
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD FOR THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg United)
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Sundowns), Anele Ngcongca (KRC Genk, Belgium), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Matthew Booth (Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)