Keziah Manuel, affectionately known as Kez, is a confident and hardworking young lady currently enrolled at The Sharks Academy, where she is fully devoted to her soccer development and pursuing her dreams in the sport. Originally from the town of Wentworth in KwaZulu-Natal, Keziah’s upbringing was marked by challenges. However, with the unwavering support and protection of her parents, she never allowed those challenges to weigh her down. Despite living with 12 family members in a three-bedroom house at one point, Keziah cherishes those times as the best memories of her childhood.
During her time at Umbilo Secondary School, Keziah initially aspired to become a doctor. However, in 2019, she had a realisation that her true calling lay in sports. “I believe that a career in sport allows me to effortlessly make a positive impact on others’ lives. My passion for helping people has become a driving force in my journey,” she expressed. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Management in Sport and Leisure, Keziah was introduced to The Sharks Academy by her coach, Uraisha. Despite finding the academy’s programme tough and tiring, she remains determined to excel in her studies, even with the challenges of long days and demanding training sessions. Late nights spent completing assignments can be particularly difficult due to fatigue.
Keziah has achieved notable recognition for her skills and dedication. She was awarded Player of the Year at her former club in 2019 and received the Soccer Student of the Year award at The Sharks Academy last year. Looking ahead, she dreams of making a difference in the lives of others, continuing her soccer journey, and working in sports management, coaching, or presenting. Her first coach, Coach Gordan, holds a special place in her heart as the person who has contributed most to her success.
Georginio Wijnaldum and N’golo Kante are Keziah’s role models in soccer. In her pursuit of her goals, she said that she has faced challenges related to finances and her mental well-being. “Financial struggles arise from the difficulties of finding work as a student, and my mental state can be affected when things don’t go as planned. I believe that being mentally strong, displaying a good work ethic, and showing commitment are essential characteristics of a top athlete,” she emphasised.
Reflecting on the challenges faced by today’s youth, Keziah highlights issues such as unemployment, depression, mental health problems, and the influence of social media. The Hollywood Foundation has made a significant contribution to her success by providing her a bursary to pursue her educational goals. Keziah firmly believes she deserves the bursary due to her strong work ethic, high standards, and the positive impact she strives to make. Education remains her ultimate goal, and she expresses her gratitude to the Hollywood Foundation, saying, “Thank you for taking a chance on me.”
Besides her soccer pursuits, Keziah also coaches football and has gained experience in administrative and sales roles. While her plan B remains within the sports industry, she envisions working more on the management and technical side. Offering advice to aspiring footballers, Keziah encourages them to persevere despite the daily difficulties they may encounter. “I know first-hand that each day can be tough, but it is important to push through,” she shared. Keziah’s unwavering dedication and positive mindset are shaping her into an inspiring figure on and off the soccer field.