In 2011 Zonwabele Dlala from Lawaaikamp in George was in the process of completing his Grassroots Coaching course with the South African Football Association, when he was appointed as an assistant coach by the FNB Football First Programme based at the Lawaaikamp Stadium.
After five years with the programme Dlala says the opportunity was an amazing stepping-stone in getting his coaching career underway: “It has helped me with gaining valuable experience which has opened up other coaching opportunities for me.”
He is now coaching at school level as well and his under 15 team has played in the Copa Coca Cola as well as the provincial finals. He has also been appointed as the development coach for the Diago Football Club.
The FNB Football First Programme presents weekly coaching clinics for boys and girls from local schools between the ages of 6 and 15, incorporating important aspects of lifeskills into the sessions.
“I feel blessed to be able to not only teach these kids basic football skills, but also teach them right from wrong and motivate them to be the best they can be. This is my life,” says Dlala.
He adds that the quality of the facility and the equipment is a huge motivating factor for the players and it is much easier to train basic football skills on the artificial surface than on an uneven field.
“They are drawn to the opportunity to play on this surface and it provides us with the opportunity to keep them off the streets and instill a sense of pride and ambition in them. They need to understand that football will not be a career for all of them, but if they work hard they can achieve anything they put their minds to.”
Dlala considers his older brother to be his rolemodel because of the fact that he also chose football over a life on the street. He is very humble and says he is more than happy with being a grassroots coach, and is not really interested in coaching professional teams. For him the reward lies in watching the boys he has worked with go on to achieve great things on and off the pitch.