Mfanelo Zuma, a former student of the South African Jockey Academy (SAJA), left the academy in 2022 after completing his five-year apprenticeship. Despite not achieving his initial dream of becoming a jockey, he secured a job as a Work Rider in Florida, USA. In an interview with the Hollywood Foundation, Mfanelo praised SAJA for preparing him for his current job and helping him develop life skills that have made him mentally strong and physically fit.
“SAJA has prepared me so well. They taught me how to ride a horse, and I would not have this job that I have now without the skills I learned there. But I have learned more than just riding, also about life in general, which has helped me to be mentally strong and physically fit,” Mfanelo said.
Growing up with a love for horses and watching jockeys racing on TV, Mfanelo always wanted to become one of them. Though his dream of becoming a jockey did not come to fruition, he is proud of himself for making a success of his life.
“For now, I am still building my career as I just started working in the USA. Even though I did not qualify as a jockey, which had been my dream, I am so proud of myself to be standing on my own two feet and making a success of my life,” Mfanelo shared.
Sr. Deborah Butt, one of Mfanelo’s mentors at SAJA, spoke highly of his passion for horses and dedication to his work. Mfanelo’s dream for the future is to have his own businesses and build a house for his family. He also wants to become an inspiration to others and donate to a charity.
“My biggest challenge right now is to save enough money so that I can achieve my goals of having my own businesses and building a home for my family,” Mfanelo said. When asked what advice he had for other youth who were aspiring to become successful in their chosen careers, he said, “They must be focused and work hard. They must persevere and never lose hope.”
He expressed his gratitude to the Hollywood Foundation for providing him with a bursary at SAJA and paying towards his loan account when he left. Without the bursary, Mfanelo would not have been able to remain at the academy.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hollywood Foundation for providing me with a bursary at the SA Jockey Academy and for paying towards my loan account when I left. I don’t have enough words to thank you. The Hollywood Foundation has been a life saver. I can shout the words loudly that I am where I am today because of you. Without the bursary, I would not have been able to remain at the academy. I hope that you can continue to provide the same support to others,” he said.
Mfanelo ‘s story is one of perseverance and hard work. He encourages others to never give up on their dreams and to keep pushing until they make it.