By Neville Grimmet
Rene Richards who was born on 13 March 1983, is the youngest of three children. He grew up in the former “coloured” area of Wentworth which at the time was plagued by gangsterism and violence. It was a place where nothing good was said to come out of. Yet Rene dubbed the “last born” by friends and team mates because he was the youngest in the Kaizer Chiefs squad in the 2002/2003 season, certainly made good of his life!
As a youngster, Rene was not interested in becoming a football player. He wanted to be a lawyer like his father Sunny Richards who was also a policeman at Wentworth. Rene says he was a generally well-behaved youngster who occasionally got into hot water at school. “Like every teenager I did see the principal’s office once or twice, but it was never anything serious”, he recalls.
For Rene who started playing soccer on dilapidated school grounds and on the streets, football was initially nothing more than a hobby. “I played soccer for fun”, he says. Rene only got into soccer seriously because his father recognised his talent.
“One day my father sat me down and we discussed taking my soccer further, ” Rene recalls, adding that for the first time he began considering soccer as a possible future career. In 1998 at the age of 15, Rene was selected to go to England to play for a development team at Crystal Palace. The coaches loved what they saw but because Rene did not have a work permit he could not remain behind. Had things worked out differently, Rene may have played football for England!
He now plays for one of the biggest soccer clubs in our country, Kaizer Chiefs, who signed him in 2001. He scored his first goal in his debut game for the team. It was an exciting moment and Rene still gets goose bumps thinking about it.
The young man is well aware of the long road ahead of him, but feels he’s more than up to the challenges ahead, especially after passing his matric with flying colours despite juggling his studies and his soccer.
Rene’s dream is to play for Manchester United. But he first wants to play in the Spanish League to please his father who’s played such an important role in his entry into soccer. “Playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid would be my way of paying my father back,” he explains. Playing for his own country is also high on Rene’s agenda. He sees playing for South Africa as a way of ploughing back into the country which allowed his talent to flourish.
Rene is inspired by positive people. He says there are those who will always try to bring him down but that the support of his friends and family, and his faith in prayer will always bring him through. Come the 2005/2006 soccer season, expect to see more of this young man on the field. Rene sees himself playing in next years World Cup and doing great things for soccer.
But while he savours the fame and fortune, Rene cherishes his Christianity even more. He unabashedly attributes his success to his faith. “God has done so much for me. My life experiences have shown how much I really need the Lord,” he says. “People today are afraid to stand up for the Gospel; that’s one thing I will not be afraid of doing, ” Rene says, adding that he believes God has plans to take his soccer career to new heights.
Rene Richards’ motto is “Believe in the Lord and nothing will go wrong”. It’s a motto that’s helped him through the most difficult times in his life, and he believes, will always carry him through!