“I want everybody to work together. Work on changing Hangberg and focus on giving our youth the best possible chance in life.”
These are the words of a Hangberg man walking the streets of this fishing village, hoping to make a difference.
Ricardo Phillips, 47, was born and bred in Hout Bay and is well-known in the community for his skills on a football pitch.
At the age of seven, Ricardo started playing soccer for Blue Bells Football Club at the William Herbert sports grounds in Wynberg, under the Cape District Football Association (CDFA) banner. He started off as a timid goalkeeper, but quickly evolved into a deadly striker with an appetite for goals.
His skill did not go unnoticed, and after a few years, he was snapped up by FC Fortune, where he played in the Vodacom League back in 1999, representing the club for nearly three years, and in the reserve side for two years.
The next phase of his career started with a seven-day Dutch course at Stellenbosch University.
“This is where my life changed and opportunities came about that ended up changing my path,” he said, adding that he had been to the Netherlands on two ocassions.
He then coached the Ajax Cape Town Academy, before going on to coach the Castle League and then took over a Vodacom side.
Ricardo is also the founder of the well-known Hout Bay United Football Community, where he has been involved with soccer tournaments and programmes since 2006.
“Hout Bay is a fishing village with lots of tourist attractions. As I grew up here, I know of challenges and problems we are faced with as a community. I have made something of the situation and hence the reason I want to help be the change and motivate our kids to dream the impossible and achieve their desired goals. Create role models and leaders and not followers,” Ricardo told Sentinel News.
He is a true son of the soil, having completed his schooling at Sentinel Primary School and Hout Bay High School in Hangberg, where he matriculated in 1993.
Determined to make a difference in Hangberg, he roped in some support from abroad in the form of the Spanish-based Meraki Bay Project. He is now the local co-ordinator of the project which focuses on youth development, women empowerment, recycling and entrepreneurship.
In addition to this, he has also started the Leopards Football programme. “The idea is to bring a balance between sport and academics by creating more opportunities for our kids through constructive programmes such as these,” he said.
He now has his sights firmly set on taking a group of young footballers to the 8 Nations Tournament in Zambia later this year, where players will have an opportunity to be scouted and possibly even pick up bursaries to study abroad.
“As a community we must unite, forget about our past and start working on the future. We must support the right things, learn from our mistakes, work together and not against each other. The youth are our future. No youth, no future. We must learn to be independent and solve our own problems,” Ricardo said.