Afcon ball catapults boy (14) to celebrity status
Meet Nelson Tshuma, the 14-year-old who will have the honour of carrying the match ball onto the field before the Bafana and Cape Verde Afcon opening match on Saturday.
Tshuma, a Grade 9 pupil from Edenvale on the East Rand, is among the 32 boys and girls who have been selected by Adidas as ball carriers during the 16-nation tournament hosted by South Africa.
The German sports apparel manufacturer is the official match ball supplier for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Speaking to City Press today, Tshuma said he was excited at the prospect of meeting Bafana striker Katlego Mphela, who also plays for his favourite local club Mamelodi Sundowns.
“I am really excited,” he said as he appeared on local national radio stations, chauffeured by his dad, Norman Tshuma.
“I am looking forward to shaking the players’ hands and get autographs as well. It is an honour that I will be walking on the pitch with the players,” the teen said.
For Tshuma senior, his son’s moment also means tickets to the opening match on Saturday.
“This is a proud moment for any parent whose kid will be parading before a crowd of over 90 000 people,” he said.
“It was a bit strange because I was unable to get tickets due to a machine fault at my local store in Edenvale … and a day later I received an SMS that Nelson has won the competition.”
The competition drew more than 5 000 hopefuls where youngsters between the ages of 12 and 16 were invited to take part via mobile social platform Mxit in November.
They were asked to motivate why they should be considered as one of the 32 ball carriers.
Nelson said he had a passion for the game and he believed that if he was chosen as the one to carry the opening match ball, Bafana would win with Mphela’s goal.
Come Saturday, Nelson will draw the attention of the media and the roaring crowd as he will be leading the players onto the National Stadium pitch along with the match referees.
» Read City Press on Sunday for more on Afcon and follow @DanieMothowagae, @TimSpiritMolobi, @City_Press as well as www.citypress.co.za for updates during the tournament.