As he stands on the side of the training fields at Naturena watching a group of fathers interacting with their young sons, Kaizer Motaung Junior gets a glimpse of a South Africa he believes is well within reach.
Here, in the heartbeat of one of world football’s most iconic clubs, Kaizer Jnr. sees something that has the potential to stretch far beyond the four white chalk lines of a football pitch.
'It’s time for us to stand up as men,' he says on a day when a select group of fathers and sons joined a host of current and past Kaizer Chiefs legends for the inaugural Kaizer Chiefs and Vodacom Red Father and Son Sleepout.
Stars such as Doctor Khumalo, Daniel Cardoso, Shaun Bartlett, Lee Baxter, Bernard Parker and Willard Katsande joined with the fathers and their sons who, as Vodacom Red clients, won an exclusive experience of camping out in style on the field at Naturena, meeting their heroes and spending quality time with each other as part of the #BeAPresentDad initiative.
'It’s so special, not only that we can be a part of something like this, but also the fact that the venue is on our academy grounds at Naturena. Sport shows young boys how to get along with others, how to have respect for others, and how to be humble. And then at the same time how to grow and be strong,' says Kaizer Jnr.
'The situation in our country at the moment is that our young men desperately need positive role models. Showing our young men how to be a man starts here with events like this. You have to be a man yourself first before you can become a father.
It’s time for us as South African men to look at ourselves again. It starts with us. Our sons learn from being with us, not us just telling them things. So much of what they see in us will go into our society through them. We need to support the strong young men in our society and give them good role models to follow, and then, I really believe, we will see a new form of a positive South African man in the future.”
Kaizer Jnr. speaks with unbridled passion about the greater impact of an event that is such a perfect fit with the core values of a company such as Vodacom as a brand with a purpose and a club like Kaizer Chiefs built around family and community.
'Kaizer Chiefs is built on the community. The team is a family. The chairman (Kaizer Motaung) is everyone’s father and every Chiefs supporter sees him as a father figure.' This was nowhere more evident than when Kaizer Snr. arrived at the Kaizer Chiefs and Vodacom Red Father and Son Sleepout and was warmly welcomed by the fathers and sons in attendance.
That’s exactly the culture we want to instil in this club, and it’s very much a club built on the right values,” says Kaizer Jnr, who grew up in a household where those values were lived on a daily basis.
'The lessons my father has taught me as a man, a footballer and a human being have been priceless. The biggest lesson he’s taught me is to be humble. He has always preached about being humble, working hard, being positive and to respect people.
'Without humility, everything can fall apart. It’s realising that the things you have don’t make you a person. The kind of person you are dictates what happens in your life. That’s how I was raised, and that’s the mentality that the club instils in our players. Material things and something that happens to you now in life shouldn’t determine how you treat people or your values. Whether you have means or not, the most precious gift you have is how you are in your heart, in all honesty. When you realise what is really important, everything else falls away. And you realise the life we have is just a blessing in itself.'