Coming from a family of soccer playing fanatics, Zaahir Witbooi seemed destined for a career in soccer. He had a lifelong dream of becoming a professional soccer player and his dreams became a reality when he was signed on as a defender for the Soweto based, Orlando Pirates.
Zaahir’s father, Nazeem, says that “it’s still hard to believe that only a few months ago, Zaahir was playing in the Bayhill tournament in Belhar” where he was spotted by Pirates recruiters. Zaahir impressed them so much that he was offered a professional footballer contract and is now part of the Orlando Pirates family. After his signing, he joined the youth team on their European Tour.
Zaahir’s passion for the game was evident from an early age. His talent was spotted at the age of 9 when he played for Milano Hotspurs and a year later he joined the Old Mutual Academy. He was then scouted by Ajax Cape Town where he was part of their junior programme. When he was 18, he was signed by The Magic FC at the beginning of the season and at the beginning of this year, Grassy Park United enquired about him because they wanted him for the Bayhill tournament. He joined them on loan from The Magic FC.
Zaahir says that his journey to professional soccer was not easy and he has had a lot of ups and downs. There were times when not even the coaches saw his potential but instead of giving up, he continued to work hard and improve on his game. When the future looked bleak, he could always depend on the unwavering support of his family, for which he is very thankful. He is especially thankful for the support of his father and uncles who had played for the local Grassy Park United all their lives. It was because of his family’s love of the game that he developed such a passion for soccer.
Zaahir says that he is “proud to be part of the Orlando Pirates team” and thankful for being offered “this incredible opportunity”. Looking forward, Zaahir says, “I do not know what the future holds, but what I do know is that dreams do come true when you are steadfast, disciplined and hard-working. One should never become despondent and let your guard down. With a positive attitude, life will take you places you always aspired to be.”