This man is our hero of the yearThomas Kwenaite
By Mandla Dladla & Andile Dladla
It is very rare to walk into the stadium to watch a game of football and find a player who is completely different to the rest of his team-mates, not through the skill factor or their flair but in a weird sort of way, playing with one arm tucked into his shorts yet banging in the goals.
That is the scenario that greeted us when we saw one special player who is known as Samuel “Coffee” Ruwaza and plays a football club called Savanna City Academy in the Mid-Vaal Local Football Association which also has a netball team.
This comes with a special relationship and belief from his coach Cargo Topisi who met Coffee through football after launching their academy.
He was immediately impressed as he saw him playing with one hand against his team and completely destroying his defence. That was when he convinced the striker to join them back in 2017.
“To play football with my situation is hard,” said Ruwaza who is slightly handicapped. “A lot of people come to me and ask me how do I do it. I didn’t know DJ Black Coffee and my coach told me that there is a person who is like me and I googled him and that’s how I got to understand the meaning behind my nickname”
“When I joined the team it was the people of Savanna City that inspired me because they are so committed to this club and we kept building the team and to this day it has been a good journey because I don’t even have the exact number of goals I have scored but they are just too many.”
A lot people saw “Coffee” as someone who is disabled but the coach did not care about his handicapped and was simply astounded by the man’s abilities despite his physical challenges.
“You know coach,” the coach recalls Ruwaza telling him when asked how he wanted to contribute to the club: “I just want you to plan around the team normally and give me whatever role because I am a versatile player and the only position I haven’t played is goalkeeper.
“We do however plan our strategies around “Coffee” so that whoever he plays with has to make sure that he makes those quick runs because he is fast, open those pockets with just two touch football and release those passes.
The good thing about Samuel Ruwaza is that he doesn’t feel bad, handicapped or an inferiority complex due to his condition but simply loves playing football and we encourage him to act and behave normal while also treating him normally.
“There are other people however, who when they see him turn to him with pity and caution him, saying he should not be playing a physical sport like football because in their misguided opinions, ‘he would injure himself’ but that is even more motivation to the goal poacher.
The player himself has overcome the stage where he used to be shy about his condition but with athletes like Ntando Mahlangu who defied their physical condition to win double gold at the Tokyo Olympics, he is even more determined to spread a message that people should no practise unconscious bias towards him.
“There are people out there like me who just want to play the beautiful game they love but are afraid or feel they are not good enough but I just want them to believe and be inspired by me. Football is not only for someone with both hands, I have both legs and for me that is enough.”
This man deserves a Bells!