“I will never forget where I came from,” says 19-year-old Hout Bay soccer star Duncan Adonis, who next week will win his sixth cap for South Africa’s national under-20 team against Malawi.
Despite his tender years, Adonis is already hailed as a hero in the Hangberg community for his footballing prowess.
What makes him even more special is that he has not let the success go to his head.
Born and bred in Hangberg, Adonis attended Sentinel Primary and Hout Bay High School, but never saw himself as a professional sportsman.
“When I was small, I didn’t play with a mind to be a pro. It was the community that inspired me to play football after they saw that I saw had potential,” Adonis, an attacking midfielder for Cape Town City, told the Sentinel at the Hangberg AstroTurf this week.
Adonis came up through the ranks at Milano United FC before honing his skills at Hellenic. He then joined Cape Town City when the club was formed in 2016.
The PSL club, which by all accounts has been a revelation since joining South Africa’s top league, has been a happy home for Adonis, and he has especially enjoyed working under former Bafana Bafana, star Benni McCarthy.
“Benni always guides us, and what I like about him is that he tells you straight whether you have played well or badly. He encourages your ability.”
With the world’s best players now bringing home multimillion pound salaries, the temptation for youngsters to chase the money must be overwhelming, but Adonis insists football should not be about that.
“We live in a small community – some people don’t even know about us – but there is a lot of talent here. The kids have so much passion, and that’s what it’s about.”
He would, however, like to see more investment in youth football, with children having access to good facilities and equipment.
“What I enjoy most is that I learn something new about the game every month. It is God’s decision where I will be in two years.”
He said he was heartened to see young community leaders like Peter Michaels and Fidel Meter going out of their way to assist others in Hangberg by delivering food parcels to the elderly.
“That is the kind of thing that inspires me,” he said.
In his fledgling international career, Adonis has already faced Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, England and Brazil, and it was the Zambians he found to be the most challenging.
“They are a very physical team, but even more than that are their crowds, who are so passionate about their players. That kind of passion among the fans is something we need to see more of in South Africa.”
He has been following the World Cup in Russia, of course, and like many the world over, he has been surprised to see the elimination of the likes of Germany, Spain and Argentina.
Fortunately, his favourite team, Brazil, remain in football’s showpiece event after beating Mexico 2-0 on Monday. Less fortunately, his favourite player, Spain’s Andrés Iniesta, has already returned home.
As Adonis shared his thoughts with the Sentinel, some 30 youngsters were playing football on the AstroTurf, and it was not lost on him that he used to be one of them. It is precisely why he will never forget his roots.
“The kids do sometimes come up to me asking for advice, which I am always happy to give them. There are some people who say these kids are here every day because there’s nothing for them to do at home, but that’s not true. There’s something in them that makes them love football.
“I want to say to them that they must never give up. They will get the opportunities, they must never drop their heads. My hope is that people will see what people in this community can do.”