Johannesburg – Kasi flavour is a way of expression, the way one strategically manoeuvres the ball on the field, the way one feels, it is arrogance, it is confidence, it is intimidation and a way of entertaining South African crowds.
From the dusty fields and lively streets of South Africa’s vibrant townships to the crisp, freshly cut, green grass of world-class stadiums. It is the street ballers, ball jugglers, and freestyle ballers, it is that which sets apart South African footballers from any other soccer players.
South African legendary soccer players Lucas Radebe, Doctor Khumalo, Jomo Sono, Kaizer Motaung Sr, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Simphiwe Shabalala and Teko Modise, top players in the South African Premier League know this flavour. These players know the feeling of playing on gravel grounds without proper gear.
According to FootballHistory.org, before the year 1891, football boots were not in use. On the contrary, the players wore work boots. These were hard to manoeuvre in and quite heavy on the foot. These boots were not intended for players to run or kick the ball. Additionally, the boots had a reinforced toe and were sometimes made of steel, which ultimately led to injuries when players unintentionally kicked each other.
These boots also did not have any grip since there was a rule that footballers could not wear any shoes with anything sticking out of them. In 1891 there was an amendment that permitted football shoes to use small bars or studs on the shoes. After that amendment, work boots were substituted with football boots designed with leather for better performance.
These boots were made of thick leather and were heavy. 0.5kg when dry and heavier when wet. These soccer boots were also laced up the ankle for better protection. This was the beginning of the modern football boots we know today. Fast forward to The Jomo Sono King classic heritage boot, which was created to withstand South African conditions, aiding the better performance of South African soccer players.
The upper of this boot was bonded leather and the out-sole was made of moulded construction, The boot was suitable for hard surfaces.
Kasi football is a festival of skills, the correct soccer boot is what makes or breaks a player.
Musa Maluleka is the 22-year-old founder and director of Disktjie, a company he established in 2019 with a vision to make soccer boots specially designed to play on gravel soccer pitches.
“I was born in a township, and I grew up playing soccer on dirt lots. Like many kids from my community, I dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player and playing in front of thousands of cheering fans. But when it came time to finding shoes, none could handle the rough conditions of our fields and roads and even if there were, they wouldn't have been affordable for the families who lived there,” Maluleka said.
Growing up in the township, he saw how sports could change people's livelihoods and how entrepreneurship could uplift communities.
Maluleka decided to take matters into his own hands at the age of 19.
“I took my savings that I had saved in my primary-high school years and my university allowance and I started Disktjie to make high-quality soccer boots that are durable and affordable enough for all children who want to play sports," he said.
For Maluleka it is a big passion of his to ensure the accessibility of sports equipment to young kids in the townships. “As one thing, playing soccer at a young age taught me is that hard work and dedication yield results,” he said.
Soccer taught him how to solve problems, "as when you play soccer, you have the opposition who is defending against you, and during the match, you need to solve problems by finding ways around the defence – and the only way is through training, hard work and dedication in preparation of the match, and once you have got that basic foundation you get around your opponent and win the match,” Maluleka said.
For him, kids having access to playing sports with the correct gear is not only a way to communicate with the youth, but it is also a way to teach young kids fundamental skills of problem-solving, that will one day make responsible citizens who solve some of the world's complexities.
Normal soccer boots are designed to provide traction on the field and grip on the ground to prevent slipping and sliding on the soccer pitch. The soccer boots can be made from different materials such as rubber, and synthetics such as nylon, leather and polyurethane.
“The difference lies in the innovative selection of materials that we have used for the studs and the design of the shoe, like a combination of PU with a tint of leather on the front part of the shoe, to truly ensure that it is durable,” he said.
One of the challenges Maluleka faced in the beginning stages of his company was establishing the brand and communicating the brand promise.
"In a market that is flooded with big brands, overcoming this challenge has truly been rooted in our core values and striking to our brand promise, which is serving township players. And through that we have truly been able to establish the brand with the different sponsorships we have with local players in different townships,” he explained.
What drives Maluleka is the purpose of serving the needs of young township kids and the power of what he could do to have a great impact on our continent.
“That gives me the resilience to power through all the challenges, as this is a vision and purpose that is beyond myself,” Maluleki said.
He believes that one day he will have the capacity to mentor people who want to be innovators because he believes that there aren't too many blueprints of great successful entrepreneurs who solve complex problems and create sustainable businesses.
Maluleki believes that one day he could be that blueprint.