Staring down at his broken soccer boots, this Bokmakierie teen’s dream of playing for Manchester United seems a world away.
But Ashton van der Vent’s stukkende baaks are carrying his dreams all the way to England.
That’s if the 17-year-old football whizz-kid can raise the R30 900 he needs to get there.
Ashton will have a chance to represent Athlone’s Trinity Spurs Development Football Club, in an exchange programme in England where he will play at three high-level performance schools and professional academies in October.
But while Ashton and his family are excited about this opportunity, they worry they will not be able to raise the funds.
In addition, Ashton also needs a new soccer kit, including boots and goalkeeper’s gloves.
The star goalkeeper has been playing in the same broken soccer boots and worn-out gloves for nearly four years.
Despite this, Ashton was awarded player of the season and player of the year at a recent academy awards ceremony.
“I have always loved soccer. I get my passion for the game from my dad,” he says shyly.
“I joined the club two years ago and then I got this opportunity.
“Since I was young I loved soccer, one day I hope to play for Manchester United.
“I am concerned about the finances, but I don’t want to think about the possibility of not going.”
Ashton’s parents have barely managed to cover his R1 000 administration fees.
His mother, Mandy van der Vent, 47, who works as a cleaner, says her husband borrowed the money at work to make the first payment.
“My husband started working six months ago after a year at home and he borrowed the money,” says Mandy.
“He is now paying that money back while we are also trying to save some money to cover the rest of the cost.
“From this month I will have to put money aside from my salary.
“Even if it means cutting from other expenses, I will do this for him because this is his dream.”
Two years ago he missed his first opportunity to go to England because of finances.
Mandy says she cannot bear to see her son disappointed for a second time.
“The first time he was selected for a student exchange programme,” she says.
“Someone in the community offered to help us with sponsors and at the very last minute we realised he raised no money.
“I was disappointed when we had to tell Ashton. This time we will do whatever we can to make sure we can send him.”
With the help of his sister Tarryn, 21, Ashton has contacted a few big companies for sponsorship but they have had little feedback.
If you would like to help Ashton realise his dream, you can contact Courtney Petersen on 083 406 4582 or email email@example.com.
You can also make a Backabuddy donation here.