George Maskini, a Grade 6 pupil from Sunnyside Primary in Athlone. File picture: David Ritchie/ANA

Cape Town - Just as a dark cloud descended on the dream of a young boy to participate in a soccer tournament overseas, along came an angel.

George Maskini, 13, was suppose to leave for Thailand on Monday, but couldn’t because of an error with his travel documents. He was stopped at the boarding gates when he couldn’t produce a visa, a requirement for Congolese residents travelling to Thailand.

On Thursday, Rastoem Simons from Simsport Eagles, contacted the Cape Argus to invite George along with them to their own tournament next year in Dubai.

“Well, I saw George’s story last week and then saw his story yesterday (on Thursday) and I felt very unsettled,” said Simons, managing director of Simsport Eagles.

Read: Soccer kid's dream ends at the airport

Young soccer star gets passport just in time

Simons works with national and international teams and Simsports provides opportunities for young boys to play internationally.

“I’m just glad I am able to assist them with giving George an opportunity to do what he loves,” Simons said.

On Thursday, The Cape Argus reported that the Grade 6 pupil from Sunnyside primary in Athlone was supposed to leave for Phuket on Monday to take part in the under-13 to 15 Phuket Cup, an international youth tournament. 

However, as he was about to check in at the boarding gates there was a hiccup, when they checked his passport it showed nationality South African but when they scanned it it said Congolese. He was told that he needed a visa to board the plane. Heartbroken, George watched his teammates leave for Phuket without him.

Simons met George, and his mother, Bampende Maskini, couldn’t be more proud and excited.

Also read: Time running out for soccer boy after passport delay

Let's show our solidarity

It’s been a difficult two-week journey for her and George. She applied for a new passport in July and in that same month, she received an SMS saying they received her application. Four weeks later she was informed that the passport was still in the printing phase. 

Then weeks later she was told that her son could not apply for a travel document and that he had to apply for a passport despite been told by Home Affairs officials that she could not apply for a passport and instead had to apply for travel documents. George’s parents are from the DRC and have permanent residency in the country. He was born in South Africa. They were then given travel documents by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan. However no one told them to apply for a visa.

Maskini also couldn’t thank the Cape Argus enough for telling their story. “Thank you so much to the Cape Argus, you guys wrote only the truth and I really appreciate it. I cannot thank all of you enough.”

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Cape Argus