Keagan Dolly Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – Keagan Dolly's father, Ramon, was nine-years-old when his mother passed away. And that meant he had to grow up under the care of his aunts and uncles at his grandmother’s house on the Westrand.

At age 20, when he had his first child in Keagan, Ramon made the conscious decision that no child of his was ever going to go through what he went through as a kid.

Due to his family life, Ramon only got to know his father in his early 20s.

“I got involved in gangs when I was a kid,” Keagan’s father recalls. “And one of the reasons why I did it was, back then, it was either you belonged to a group of brothers, who would have your back at all times, or you were going on your own.

“That led to you being victimised a whole lot by the other gangs. But it never got too serious on my side. I quit hanging out with those groups because I now had a son who looked up to me and wanted to do everything that I did. I had to quit. I had to be a good example to him.”

Keagan was only five when he fell in love with the beautiful game. His father and a group of his mates were busy knocking a ball around on the street in Westbury, where he grew up. They were playing one pole street football. Keagan was captivated.

He wanted to enter the fray but his father disallowed it as he believed he was too young to participate. He was going to be muscled off the ball quite easily, the elder Dolly reasoned.

And then Keagan did what any other normal child his age would do under the circumstances.

“He cried,” Ramon recalls. “I don’t know how many times he begged me, saying: ‘But daddy, I want to play. I finally agree under one condition – that was he was never allowed to cry should he be knocked off the ball by other bigger players because he was very small. We agreed and moments later: ‘Boom,’ he fell.

“I looked straight into eyes, warning him that he was going to get a spanking should he decide to shed a tear after what we spoke about. He got up, with his teary eyes and all, and continued playing. That’s when I knew he had something special within him.”

If you were to ask the former Mamelodi Sundowns star about some of his fond memories of his early playing days at Westbury Arsenal FC, he would tell you of his struggles with deciding on whether to go to training or watch Dragonball Z on TV.

Unfortunately for him, his father was the head coach of his junior side then and that meant he had to show up, Monday to Friday, for training like all the other kids.

Dolly still makes time to watch his favourite childhood show, though he is now playing in one of the best leagues in the world, the French Ligue 1, for Montpellier.

Watching Son Goku and Co, reminds him of the good all days, where he comes from and how far he’s come as a player.

And though most players dream of earning a move to go and play in Europe and probably finish off their careers playing there, Dolly still dreams of achieving more.

“Yep, back then my parents knew that they had to make a plan, or otherwise I wasn’t going anywhere (during the timeslot of Dragonball Z),” Dolly chuckles when recalling his childhood obsession.

“Fortunately enough, we had this video cassette player and my mom would record it for me while I was in training. I would watch it in the evening when I got back. I still watch it to this very day, when I have time. Looking back, each and every step I have made in my career was always a preparation towards something bigger,” he adds.

“And me joining Montpellier now, it’s just another step towards what I really want to achieve. It never ends. So far, I have made seven or eight appearances at the club, while having started in four. It’s been nice. With the few weeks I’ve spent there, I believe that I’m settling in quite well (in his new team).”


The Star