Emmanuel Yolo Thoba grew up in a small town called Rawsonville, in the Western Cape.
He played soccer for the Rawsonville Gunners FC from 2011 to 2013, mostly at the position
number 11, the left wing. He was part of the team that won the Winter Promotional league
of Breede Valley Local Football Association. He has been assisting Dr Tarminder Kaur in
her study of sport in Rawsonville, first as interlocutor, and for past six months as a full-time
research assistant. He played a particularly important role in assisting with research for the
paper: amaXhosa Maradona: Global Icons, Local Following and Soccer Talent as a Gift
and Curse for South African Youth, which featured on the Football Scholars Forum, in 27th
Rawsonville Gunners F.C: a story of a winning friendship
AbstractThis presentation tells a story of a soccer club, the Rawsonville Gunners Football Club (or the Gunners, in short), I played for between 2011 and 2013. It is a story of celebration of deep friendships and our soccer skill, tactics and tricks, a combination that led to many on-field victories. But it is also a story of challenges, discouragements, a tragedy and moving on.
Since as long as I can remember, soccer was everything to us. This “us” is a group of friends who grew up together at a worker housing compound provided by the wine cellar our parents worked for. This “us” eventually became the core team of the Gunners. As very young children, we watched our fathers play soccer together, and we all started playing soccer together. We built our own team, our own training routines and organised our own matches. We wanted so bad to make it in life with football, not only for us as a team but for everyone who supported us and our soccer. When we were recruited to play for the Gunners in 2011, we were told that our job was to win, and the managers of the club would take care of everything else. We did just that. We won matches every weekend. And then we won the Local Football Associations’ Winter League. But despite all the wins, we were struggling financially to keep up the club. The club’s manager started asking us to pay for the referee’s fee and transportation. Inability to contribute financially, lack of support from our management to earn money by playing the unofficial gambling games, and series of discouragements, incidents and other life factors, the Gunners broke down, and friendships moved on.