Reaching for the stars

Hashten-Lee Gertse from Hout Bay has his sights set on becoming a professional footballer and wants to play abroad.

Football is everything to me – these are the inspiring words of a 19-year-old Hangberg soccer player who has dreams of scoring goals at the highest level.

That dream might become a reality for Hashten-Lee Gertse, who has received an opportunity to strut his stuff abroad and get his pro career off to a good start.

Hashten has earned a soccer scholarship through Droom International Football Academy based in Atlanta, America.

However, the scholarship is only partly funded and he still needs a few more rands to book his seat on the plane.

“Football is everything to me. Everything I do is for football. It is always on my mind and I am always motivated to better myself and improve my football skills. Football has helped me with almost all aspects of my life. It has helped with my fitness, my life choices and my mental health. It has kept me motivated and focused and helped me stay on the right path and be a better person,” Hashten said.

Having lived in Hout Bay his whole life, he attended Ambleside School of Hout Bay for his entire schooling career and this is where the dream all started.

He first kicked a ball for his school team at a young age before deciding to join the Dash Leopards from Hout Bay. He spent two years with the team before moving to Hout Bay United.

“I was 15 at the time. I quickly noticed the level I needed to be at to improve and progress within the club. At the age of 16, I was already playing with the under 18s,” he proudly said.

Hashten’s biggest achievement so far came when he was selected at a trial to go and play football in Italy as part of an under-21 team that was composed of players from all over Cape Town.

“While we were there, I got the chance to play against big European clubs. This was an amazing learning experience and definitely made me a better player,” he said.

In the next few years, he hopes to achieve his dream of becoming a professional football player and has set his sights on playing for some of the biggest clubs in Europe, and around the world.

“I want to move overseas and better myself. I also want to learn new languages and learn more about different cultures. I also want to become a professional so that I can better myself and my family, and help more people in my community. I want to create more opportunities for South African children who want to pursue football,” Hashten said.

His fondest memory was watching his dad and friends celebrating a Manchester United win over Liverpool in the English Premiership.

“My dad and his friends all came over to our house and I just watched them all react and get so enthusiastic about Manchester United winning. Seeing how they reacted showed me how much the game meant to them, and how it brings all people joy,” he said.

His proud mother, Patience Gertse, said they are in full support of Hashten and could not be more proud of his achievements.

“As parents, our hopes and aspirations for our son is to be able to pursue his dreams and to feel proud of his efforts and achievements,” she said.

She said Hashten has “a very positive outlook towards everyday life”, always saying that “nothing is impossible, you just have to believe in yourself and work towards your dream”.

Hashten needs to raise close to R15 000 to secure his place at the academy.

“The academy is covering part of the scholarship and the rest we have to cover. We also have to purchase new soccer boots for him as well as that is not covered,” Mr Gertse said.

For Hashten, it’s a great opportunity for him to become a beacon of hope in Hangberg.

“In my community, almost everyone plays or watches football. I hope that being able to have the chance at becoming professional and changing my life shows them all that it is possible to achieve your dreams. I want to show people that with determination, perseverance and drive anyone can achieve their dreams and better themselves. I want to show them that where you come from does not matter, that it is possible to achieve greatness.”

BLOB To help Hashten get one step closer to his dream, call his mother, Patience Gertse, on 078 573 4030.

Hashten-Lee Gertse received a scholarship through Droom International Football Academy based in Atlanta America, but needs help to get there.