All thanks to Shona Khona and hard work
A soccer coach at the Chris Hani informal settlement near Cape Town encouraged me to enter Shona Khona.
He convinced my mother that I had talent and that I would go far if I pursued my dream of becoming a soccer star and emulated my idol, the Banyana Banyana star, Portia Modise.
After I had applied to Shona Khona by posting my name, address and other details to the organisation I was invited to the education-through-sport programme's soccer coaching and life-skills workshops at the Safa and Transnet Soccer School of Excellence, in Elandsfontein in Ekurhuleni, in April.
The coaches, who included Marks Maponyane, Dan Malesela, Stan Whitting and Mandla Mazibuko, taught us many skills, such as dribbling, juggling, passing and teamwork.
In July I was selected to go to Sao Paulo in Brazil for further soccer coaching and to attend a life-skills development course.
My family was happy for me when I boarded an aircraft for the first time in my life.
In Brazil, at the famous Sao Paulo Football Club's soccer academy, we all learnt more and better soccer skills and tricks, and more teamwork in the practice sessions.
I loved everything about Brazil. The shopping was a lot of fun. But one thing I did not like was the food in Brazil.
I was inspired by all the stars at Sao Paulo FC, young and old.
I am treasuring all the mementoes that I brought back from Brazil.
I am still inspired by the Shona Khona experience. I am continuing to work hard.
My message to my fellow youths in soccer is: "Let us all work hard because it is only through hard work that we can succeed.
"Let us also take every chance that comes our way. If I had not taken a chance, I would not have gone to Brazil, ever."
lThis is an edited version of an article written by Wendy Xeketwane, 16, who plays amateur soccer at the Chris Hani informal settlement.
Her dream is to play for the Banyana Banyana national women's soccer squad.
Sowetan, together with the SABC, is a media sponsor of Shona Khona. The project is a nation-building programme of Reckitt Benckiser and Metcash.