Jacob Mtakwende was born and raised in Lebohang (Leslie/Leandra) and has always been passionate about soccer and the youth of today. He lives out his passion every day by coaching soccer and started the Inkunzi Isematholeni league in 2014.
Inkunzi Isematholeni means the bulls amongst the calves. This soccer league started with teams from Leslie and later on moved to take over the TEKS area. The league started with only three U/11 teams and has grown since then.
As a child Jacob was a soccer player as well and played for the Rennies Group FC as a mid-fielder.
“I always played as a mid-fielder and I loved it and miss it,” Jacob said.
With the Inkunzi Isematholeni league established, Jacob realised that sponsors would be needed to ensure that the league can continue and the players can reach their full potential.
The Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge was born in 2015 and the Inkunzi Isematholeni league and the The Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge merged.
When the Inkuzi Isematholeni league started there were many other leagues but true to the meaning of Inkunzi: big snake, the Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge took over all those leagues.
The Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge started with 8 teams (U/11) and today there are 64 teams participating in this prestigious league (U/11; U/13; U/15).
The first team to win the Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge league in 2015 was the eMbalenhle Home Boys and to this day theu are the team to watch.
When asked why he started the Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge league, Jacob smiled proudly and said:
“I saw that children were vulnerable doing nothing and just walking around in the streets. So, I started this to keep kids off the streets and through soccer teach the children discipline, respect and also educate the children on matters like HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drugs.”
Jacob loves developing and motivating children because children are the future.
“To work with children, you learn from their diverse cultural backgrounds. With the cultural backgrounds, I have to teach the children to work together. The Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge started from nothing and today we are taking over the Mpumalanga and Gauteng soccer world. We are proud because more than 10 players are playing for bigger teams like Hyper Khatorus Football Academy in Germiston, Wits Junior from Wits University and Kagiso Academy in Kempton Park.”
Jacob’s dreams are to see more players playing at the professional level and to support these players in their achievements.
Jacob is working extremely hard to encourage young girls to join the Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge.
In 2019 there was only one girls’ team and these young ladies beat most of the boys’ teams!
“Soccer is not only for the boys. There are many opportunities for the young ladies too. I encourage all the young girls to come and play and participate in the Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge.”
Jacob continued: “Not all will be professional players but they must stay positive and follow their dreams.”
There are many previous players that Jacob has trained and played with who are now pillars in their community. These men have moved on to become pastors, motivational speakers and teachers.
Jacob said that it is especially important for the parents to support their children.
READ ALSO: Lake Umuzi Soccer Challenge 2019
“Come stand next to the soccer field and support your children or make sure they do not miss a practice session. Support your children through everything. Nibacase abantwana benu ngakhokonke!”
“Fumelani abantwana beze ebholeni!”
Jacob’s teacher, Mrs Natalie Reddy always shared these wise words with him: “A child involved in sports is a child out of court.”
Until today Jacob carries these words close to his heart!