Tough As New Boots

YOU South Africa|12 March 2020

Tough As New Boots
Tired of gravel damaging his soccer boots, this student designed trendy togs that can weather any township turf
Fulufhelo Ramotsatsi

Walking a mile in another man’s shoes is hard. But playing soccer in his boots is even harder – especially if it’s not on a grass pitch.

This was a lesson Musa Maluleka learnt early in life. As a young boy playing on gravel, he quickly wore down soccer boots designed for playing on grassy turf.

And when he couldn’t find footwear suitable for playing on the gravel pitches in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, where he grew up, it was the start of what would become a brilliant business idea.

“I kept asking myself, ‘Why are there millions of kids playing on gravel without soccer boots suitable for gravel?’ ” Musa (19) muses when we meet him at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where he’s in the third year of his BCom accounting studies.

Musa created his own soccer boot brand, Disktjie, which is believed to be the first homegrown soccer boot in SA.

The name, Disktjie, is a combination of “diski”, township slang for soccer, and the Afrikaans diminutive suffix “-tjie”.

“I came up with this name because, growing up, I realised that football knows no race, even though in South Africa we like to distinguish between black and white,” he explains.

“With the name I aim to show that, even in our diversity, we share many similarities. Once we’re on the field, all of us are the same.

“I wanted a young kid in the townships of Atteridgeville to believe that we’re united with someone in Sandton. You can dream the same way someone in Sandton can.”

His venture has its roots in his dream as an 11-year-old of designing his own soccer boots. But it wasn’t until he was in Grade 11 and had to do an assignment on a business idea that it occurred to him to create footwear suitable for playing on gravel.

Luckily his mom, Sophy, who raised him as a single parent, had laid down a rule that would help Musa on his path to success: he wasn’t allowed to spend his pocket money at the school tuckshop.

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12 March 2020