By Mzukona Mantshontsho
THE GOLDEN DRIFTERS ACADEMY exists to identify, support and further develop sports related skills, personal abilities, health and wellbeing of talented athletes in our region.
I recently had a chat with Founder and President at the Golden Drifters Academy Proud Shoko about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey thus far.
Your brief early Life?
I grew up in a poor family where my mother was a domestic worker for years in Fairlands and my father was working in a timber firm in Mpumalanga for years and he would only come home once in a while. I loved sports and I used to play a lot at a tender age. My interest in sports was motivated by my mother who was a top sports person during her times at school and her father who was an educator and sports master back in the 1980s, sadly he passed away in 1995 while I was two years old and I didn’t get a chance to know him. I did my education in Cosmo City where I finished my Matric in 2013, during my high school in Cosmo city I was the School President (Head Boy) in 2012-2013 due to my leadership qualities which I displayed over the years at Sgodiphola Secondary School. I was also one of the top learners during my Matric year and that was one of my biggest achievements at high school. After my Matric I took a gap year and I worked for the City of Johannesburg as an ECO-GUIDE under the Green Beings NPO this was due to the fact that I didn’t have money for university. In 2015, I enrolled at the University of Johannesburg for a Teaching Degree.
Inspired by the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in 2011, I formed my own club; Golden Drifters Football Club. As a young passionate boy, I loved sports and soccer in particular, but because I didn’t get a chance to play it at a high level, I decided to start a soccer team which I used to train after school. I gathered very small and few young people and shared them my goal and vision, we started from there training at extension 7 park. This is how the club started and numbers kept increasing over the years until today. I am leading a management of 9 executive board members and also more than 50 young boys and girls from the age of 11-25 years old.
My Role and Duties today?
I have grown within football ranks as a person through this club. I have managed to get into structures of the SOUTH AFRICAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION. I have done a lot of football administration courses and also served on some football associations as a chairperson and also as a secretary at some time. Because of my role in the Club, I have managed to acquire a coaching license and refereeing license in football. I am proud to say that I am a qualified sports person today because of what Golden Drifters FC has offered me. At Golden Drifters FC I play an important role on daily basis. I am responsible for getting sponsors for the organization and responsible for the overall running of the organization. I am the face of the organization. Now because it is an NPO, we don’t have funds to pay anyone working at the club, I am often financing most of the expenses of the club on my own on monthly basis. Management members also contribute some on voluntary basis time to time. I am also responsible for the compliance status of the organization with Government and the private sector. Lastly, I run the social media platforms of the organization and website.
Work in Progress
Golden Drifters FC is now a big organization, we are the only team from the North of Johannesburg representing this Region at Regional Level. This is a huge achievement for the North and West of Gauteng. There is a lot to look forward to when it comes to Golden Drifters FC, I am working on getting the team promoted to the Guateng ABC Motsepe League. This is my main objective for the next 2 years. I want Golden Drifters FC to be the first team to represent our community at Provincial level because we have already represented our community at Regional Level. Lastly, I want to see more people being involved and a lot of talent being groomed at the club for the National Team of our Country. The Club’s 5-year plan is to be at the National Premier Soccer League (1st Division).
Initiatives that would leave a Greatest Impact
Getting the club to a professional league for me is the greatest impact in my life. There haven’t anyone that have achieved that goal because many people always fail before they have achieved anything. They also give up when they face challenges. I have faced a lot of challenges but today I stand still and focus on my goal and vision which is to have the first professional team from this community. I am inspired by professional teams which come from Soweto and Pretoria. This for me will be the greatest impact in our life time if it gets achieved. I am looking forward to that achievement because I am working on it.
What would you change if I had the powers in the world?
I would priotise the interests of the youth at heart. I love working with the youth and giving them opportunities and see them progressing. I would invest in their education and make easy access for them into any sporting code of their interest. I wouldn’t’ say I would want to be a billionaire if I have the powers but I would want to also get to a point in life where I can afford a better living and able to support other people. Building my own charity/foundation is one thing I will also do and making sure that the Golden Drifters FC is playing in the Premier Soccer League competing against the best in the Country and also the best in the African continent and Europe as world. Well as far as soccer is concerned, I would actually create a world class soccer team.
Most critical resources for your successful Leadership?
I am very privileged to have been raised by parents who are Christians. My foundation is rooted in the Christian life. So, the most resource that has Proud Shoko where he is today is prayer. I am a prayer warrior. I believe in Prayer. My parents are the most supportive parents and they always give me the best support. It’s not really easy to get parents who support you to do something for 9 years and has never brought an income to the family. They have confidence and hope in what I do and that has kept me going and motivated from day one. I love my work and I appreciate each person that I work with for their immense contribution to the growth of the organization. This has seen the club growing from different ranks in sports from lower to high level that is why traditionally in the club we have Awards to honor players and management. People can describe me as a fearless leader. I am true to myself and I believe in myself. If I want something, I go for it. I am not afraid to challenge higher positions and I am not afraid to lead people who are older than me. I am a very humbled person and I respect anyone regardless of our differences in life. So, I am a hard worker, committed and a go getter. I am also a person who is not afraid to start over. I have worked with different leaders and in that process, I learnt a lot of skills and techniques. I am a TEAM Leader because I believe together everyone achieve more.
What Legacy would you like to leave behind?
I would love to leave behind a generation of young people who are able to stand on their own from nothing to something, from nobody to somebody. I would like to leave a legacy that will stand for many more generations. I would love to retire having built something great for the people of South Africa. I would like to be the next Dr. Irvin Khoza of Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Motaung on Kaizer Chiefs. I want to leave a legacy like that which has been created by the above-mentioned people. I want to leave a legacy which will make football a job not a recreational activity for the people in my community.
How does Golden Drifters FC give back to the Community?
We have different skills development programs that we run as a club. We are also linked with other social development organisations and these organisations often give us job opportunities and we share the opportunities with our members. Currently we have a computer literacy program which we are offering for free. This is to increase the computer knowledge of the youth since computers are not offered within the local schools. We also have soccer development program, after school program, sanitary pads drive program and back to school program. All these initiatives are to try to empower the community for the support they give us. We have our community at heart so we always ensure that they benefit from our programs.
Highs and Lows
– Access to resources has been a challenge.
– Lack of funds and sponsors/donors has delayed the challenges of the organisation.
– We have achieved a lot in terms of progressing from lower league to a higher league. We moved from Local to Regional. This is the greatest achievement so far within the community.
– We also lack volunteers. As the club is growing more kids join the organisation and very few join the management structure.
– Compliance has been a challenge for us specially to get audited statements so that we apply for bigger grants, auditors are very expensive and we don’t afford their fees, this is an on-going problem for us yearly.
– Access to get proper office and clubhouse has been a challenge over the years but I am proud that we have a place now which is a clubhouse and we are working on getting a better office space now.
Word of advice to young people to start a business?
I would like to say to young people out there, trust your hustle and never give up. People will laugh at you and make jokes out of you but if you have a vision and a goal, never let anyone pull you down. Keep fighting and never stop supporting others when your business is on the rise. Share your ideas with fellow youth. Great things take time, learn to keep yourself humbled, give credit where its due and appreciate those you are working with. Love your work and never cheat/steal from yourself, be true and honest to what you are doing. Reward your workers fairly. It’s not easy out there but be on the learning side always.
Effects of COVID-19 on Small Business?
COVID-19 affected small businesses and it will take time for many to get back on their feet again. We are also affected badly but we are now trying new mechanisms of getting business and cash inflow within our business.
When you not at work, what do you get up to?
When I am not at work, I go to church. I am a very social person, so at times I hang around with friends and family. I love going on hikes and visiting other organisations just to learn how they are doing things and also motivate them through sharing my journey.
Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity.
Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them.
Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS.
Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.