; Chiefs star has both feet on the ground – The Citizen

Chiefs star has both feet on the ground

Hendrick Ekstein of Kaizer Chiefs (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Hendrick Ekstein of Kaizer Chiefs (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

The community of Bekkersdal see Pule Ekstein as one of their own and he doesn’t let fame go to his head.

Having a child comes with the huge responsibility of making sure they grow up under the best care and become responsible adults when they get older – that’s how life has changed in the last couple of years for Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Hendrick Ekstein.

The Chiefs midfielder has three kids, whom he deeply loves and wants to see have a better life, especially looking at how things have turned out in our country, with many kids abusing drugs and alcohol from an early age.

Ekstein believes being there for his kids will help them to stay away from those social ills, and that has prompted him to open the Hendrick Pule Ekstein Foundation, which helps kids around the West Rand, particularly his community of Bekkersdal in Westonaria, to help them achieve their dreams.

“The moment my first child was born I knew I had to look at life in a different way,” the midfielder explains.

“I had become a father to someone and this person will be looking up to me for everything. Now that I have three kids, I have to make sure they are well taken care of and have everything they need. The most important thing here is to make sure they grow up to become productive citizens and stay away from all the bad stuff in life.”

“But again, knowing how I grew up and looking at my community, I just knew I also had a role to play with the kids of our community because they look up to me. I then decided to open a foundation. It will help kids with school, mentoring them and helping to see life in a different perspective, as well as help them believe in their dreams. If I was able to do it, coming from Bekkersdal, then they also can make it. That’s what I want them to see and realise that everything is possible in life.”

READ: Chiefs hire English tutor for Madagascan midfielder

The Chiefs star recently held his first annual tournament in Bekkersdal at one of the township’s oldest football grounds, nicknamed “Congo”.

The dusty field is where Ekstein started playing football and people saw his potential.

The tournament was graced by the presence of former team-mate and current SuperSport United midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane and his wife Mpho, as well as Orlando Pirates midfielder Xola Mlambo.

Ekstein says their presence at the tournament meant so much for the people of his community.

“When you are a kid and you see someone you have only seen on TV for the first time, that lights up your day. Everyone was just happy to have seen and had a chat with Yeye, Mpho and Xola. It is motivation for the people and I believe with this foundation we will go on and help many kids to become stars one day. They should then always go back to their community and help those coming up,” he added.

“I’m grateful to everyone who took their time to come and watch the kids. There was so much talent on display and surely some of them will be helped to try and get into professional academies. But again, remember this is not only about football, but education as well. We have to remind them they have to stay in school and avoid being caught on the wrong side of things.”

With his life so different since he began playing for Chiefs after working in the mines, Ekstein has been in the spotlight for a while now, but still people in his community amazingly don’t become star-struck – they just see him as one of their own and he doesn’t let fame go to his head.

“I belong to the community – this is where it started, everyone is used to me so there is no reason to change or for them to see me in a different way, just because I play for Chiefs. I’m still the same person I was before and that’s just how it is.”

 

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