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#PoeticLicence: A promising football star who fell victim to a broken shooting star

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published Jul 31, 2022


Johannesburg - He said he would bring back a trophy for his parents and team.

It was his talent, the magic he could weave with a ball at his feet that booked him a flight to another country, where apartheid is rife in the 21st century.

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But not all magic is transferable, he couldn't swap fantastic footwork for the agility to glide his body in a body of water.

It was a difficult spell for him to conjure since there aren't many bodies of water where he comes from, just too many bodies with empty bellies to feed in Alexandra - a fish tank, they can see through the glass; Sandton, how beautiful you look to them.

Eighteen young soccer players went to Palestine, and one, Kabelo Masalesa, discovered a new world at the belly of a swimming pool in Palestine.

He was part of an under-13 soccer team of players selected from the best in the tournament to represent South Africa at the Free Palestine Football Tournament during the winter holidays; a figment of dreams for any boy or girl raised in the dusty streets of townships sinking.

He said he would bring back a trophy for his parents and team, a promising soccer star who fell victim to a broken shooting star - they left with wishes upon it for their talents to bring them back with tales of hope, and ambitions for a brighter future in a world that has been made smaller by travelling, by exploring and following their young hearts.

It must have been a strange pull in the water that his curious mind was silently drawn to.

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Sometimes life-changing opportunities don't only change a life, they take it.

On the day of Kabelo’s death, his team won 2-1, and any match that followed was in his honour - a fallen compatriot who struggled to keep his airway clear of water. He did not drown because he fell into a swimming pool, he drowned because he remained submerged. Swimming was never in the pages of his spellbook.

I suppose sometimes you can have talent so massive, that it weighs on your small body and you could drown yourself in a pool with it if you are not careful.

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That shooting star wished upon did not warn him that these are lungs, not the fish tank that is his township, water does not belong here.

The State of Palestine held a memorial service for him, attended by his parents and uncle, followed by a ceremony with military honours at State House in Jericho, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, ahead of the repatriation of his remains.

There aren't enough prayers, comfort and strength to stitch the hole he has left in his family.

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He did bring back a trophy, he just transferred the wrong magic, he traded his 11-year-old body to immortalise the name of Masalesa, who survived the dusty fish tank that is Alexandra, only to drown in Palestine.

The Saturday Star