Share Their Story

Themba Khumalo, 26

Professional athlete and coach
Motorsport South Africa

Themba Khumalo is a professional superbike racer and coach. His entrance to motorsport began with a sponsorship in 2008 from Richard Olfsen, the chief executive officer of mCubed – despite the then 12-year-old Khumalo not knowing how to ride a motorbike. “I had a dream to race,” he says.
“My understanding has always been that he saw my passion, hunger and desire,” Khumalo says, explaning Olfsen’s decision to sponsor him even though he had no racing experience.
Khumalo has rapidly accelerated within motorsport since. “In 2014, my first year on a 600cc bike I crashed 14 times that year as a rookie,” he says. “In 2016, my first year on a 1 000cc bike, I only crashed twice that year, which showed me how much I had learned from my previous errors.” At 19, he raced in the 2015 European Junior Cup motorcycling series.
Khumalo encourages all young people to chase after their dreams and not let anything hold them back.

Time is limited and we only have one life to make our impact on the world.

Author - Sarah Irwin
Phuti Minaj, 32

Phuti Minaj, 32

Chairperson
Phuti Lekoloane Foundation

Phuti Minaj is South Africa’s first openly gay professional soccer player. Minaj, who plays for the Makapanstad Romans in the ABC Motsepe League, is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the LGBTQIA+ athlete community.

After talking on national radio about his sexuality, he took ownership of his voice and identity as a gay man. Minaj has since used his platform as a soccer player to raise awareness for the LGBTQIA+ community and the fight for equality.

In 2021, Minaj was named the Sports Personality of the Year at the 13th annual Feather Awards. With the Phuti Lekoloane Foundation, he aims to create a safe space for LGBTQIA+ athletes through campaigns and clinics, sports tournaments and mentorships.

Minaj dreams of a diverse South Africa where LGBTQIA+ people are free to occupy space in their lives and careers without fear of prejudice. At just 32, he is levelling the playing field, one goal at a time.

“I only do good when I feel good, and to feel good I need to be myself all the time.”

Laura du Toit | mg.co.za
Phumelela Mbande, 29

Phumelela Mbande, 29

SA Hockey co-captain and external audit manager
SA Hockey and PricewaterhouseCoopers

Phumelela Mbande balances the demands of her successful hockey career with a fledgling career in auditing.

After the first three months of her articles at PricewaterhouseCoopers, she knew auditing was for her. Even though it has tough periods and tight deadlines, it offers Mbande the flexibility to be able to pursue her other dream: hockey.

She is currently the co-captain and goalkeeper of South Africa’s women’s hockey team. They competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she was also South Africa’s flag-bearer. Her week comprises six days of strength and conditioning training, as well as four days of hockey training and matches.

Transformation in South African hockey is one of Mbande’s great passions. “I come from very humble beginnings, and hockey funded a big part of my tuition through bursaries. I feel it necessary to continue to advocate that other players should be given such life-changing opportunities,” she says.

“In an attempt to create awareness and drive change, I’ve seen my role in the sport as one that goes beyond the four white lines on the hockey field, and have felt the responsibility to be a voice for those who don’t have the privilege of the platform I find myself on.”

Alexander Brand | mg.co.za
Marvel Mthembu, 24

Marvel Mthembu, 24

Founder
Crushing the Barriers International

Marvel Mthembu is the founder of Crushing the Barriers International, a multinational organisation that sets out to conquer the challenges faced by young people around the world.

Using a platform that engages multiple industries and other changemakers, Mthembu is making an impression. At just 24, he is the youngest African to receive public tributes from the dukes of Sussex and Cambridge for his contributions to uplifting humanity.

He feels a responsibility to his generation and believes he has a role to play in the creation of opportunities for young Africans. Mthembu’s vision is to see young Africans being employed and creating sustainable employment for others, for youth and women in particular.

He believes his biggest mistake was shrinking his vision when he faced challenges, but he’s grateful he had the capacity to shift focus and see his plans through.

“More than anyone else you should believe in yourself that you can do that thing and you can be that person you want to be.”

Oratile Mashazi | mg.co.za
Lodumo Nkala, 19

Lodumo Nkala, 19

Pigeon fancier
Community Lofts

Today, pigeon racing is a multimillion-rand sports industry that features big money events, famous competitors such as former world champion boxer Mike Tyson and almost 5 000 pigeon fanciers in South Africa alone.

It’s an exclusive universe that’s hard to break into. In spite of this, 19-year-old Lodumo Nkala from Pretoria founded Community Lofts, a pigeon racing academy located in the townships of Centurion. The academy educates community members about pigeon racing and provides them with opportunities in the sport.

Last year, Nkala was invited to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s farm in Limpopo to attend the opening of the prestigious Million Dollar Pigeon Race. He spent two days on the property learning and networking, and was presented with an award as one of the top 50 pigeon fanciers in the country.

“Every morning I am driven by the potential to positively impact people.”

Patrick Visser | mg.co.za
Bokamoso Nkomo, 30

Bokamoso Nkomo, 30

Head of sponsorship and marketing, sports agent, app programmer and events co-ordinator
BSports Agency, Blacklight Design and Jenesequa Events

Bokamoso Nkomo is the founder and head of sponsorship and marketing for BSports Agency, the first and only agency that represents women athletes in South Africa. She also owns the events company Jenesequa Events and is an app programmer for Blacklight Design.

Her passion is women in sports. “They work hard to represent the country but don’t have a voice. I am motivated to wake up and be their voice.” Nkomo uses her voice as a sports analyst on e.tv and hosts Twitter spaces for the channel. Nkomo has addressed government events to advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and women in sports.

Her proudest moments include being nominated for the Sports Personality of the Year award at the JHB Women in Sports Awards, and her covers and features in Sibizi Magazine, gsport4girls and iDiski Times. Through her work, Nkomo wants women athletes to get respect and equality, and be supported and heard.

“Take up space, and don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves — go create them.”

Shaazia Ebrahim | mg.co.za

FINALISTS

SPONSORED CONTENT