I’m blind but I have vision. Dumisani Ntombela has never seen a football stadium but he coached a women’s soccer team all the way to the Premier League!
Johannesburg, South Africa – Dumisani Ntombela, 26, lost his eyesight to cancer at two years old, both eyes were removed and covered up with skin grafts but this blind man, would not allow his physical impairment to stand in the way of his passion for soccer, labelled from an early age as “the blind boy with a football vision”.
Growing up, Dumisani was tormented, bullied and beaten in his home township. Cruelly called “Spoko,” or ghost, by other children, he was shunned by his community.
“People were scared of me, they said I had a demon in me” recalls Dumisani.
“They told my parents to take me to a place far away because I will infect the other children with blindness. My parents were always crying; nobody wanted me around. I soon realised that my blindness was my gift, I am blind, but I have vision,” adds Dumisani.
His love for soccer is what made it all okay for Dumisani, and was soon recognised for his exceptional talent, not only in his ability to visualise and understand the game but for his grit and determination to fight the discrimination he faced. Using his talent, he overcame rejection, and the perceptions of those around him began to change.
Dumisani is renowned in soccer circles, for taking Silver Spears Ladies Football Club to the top of the ranks in the Sasol Women’s League in 2017. With success, came bitter disappointment as Dumisani was sadly not able to secure continued funding for the team, so used his disability grant and financial assistance from his parents to keep the team on the field, at that time Sadly, when his parents passed away Dumisani had to ask the girls to hang up their soccer boots as the money had run dry.
It was a winner of the Cannes Lions Young Director Award, local filmmaker Wim Steytler, who came across Dumisani’s story online back in 2016. He was bowled over and sceptical at the same time, of the fact that a blind man could actually be a football coach. Wim went in search of Dumisani to find out more. Dumisani invited Wim to his home in Vosloorus. The story was true, Dumisani was a talented soccer player, he showed Wim how he dribbled a soccer ball. Wim was in awe. Wim was intent on using film to share Dumisani’s feel-good story with the rest of South Africa.
Enter, Adam Thal, owner of a local award-winning film production company, Star films, who agreed with Wim, Dumisani’s story would make great content for a short film.
“I really want to use my skills as a filmmaker to encourage empathy and understanding for the ‘people on the margins’, I call it ‘culture care’,” says Wim.
Star films collaborated with Hack films to produce a beautifully sensitive and moving short film called Spoko ‘The Dumisani Story’. We urge all South Africans to watch this short film; it will move you, it will inspire you, it will make you think, reflect and if you think you have been dealt a raw deal in life, meet Dumisani.
Watch the video here: