At the young age of 15, Qaphela Gobodo had his whole life ahead of him and was aiming for the top, chasing his dream of one day becoming a Springbok. His hard work paid off when he earned a rugby scholarship at a prestigious school in Pretoria in Grade 8, but jealous classmates changed his life forever when they heard the news.

Fellow pupils at Bergrivier High School in Wellington, where Gobodo went to school, attacked him one day, setting him alight and leaving him to burn. Gobodo faced one of the hardest times in his life as he struggled to recover from the horrific event, both mentally and physically.

While he was in recovery he would often be bullied at school, and each day felt as if his dream was drifting further away.

The extent of Gobodo burns.

After 20 surgeries to repair the damage caused by the third degree burns he had all over his body and the daily bullying, Gobodo was overwhelmed and dropped out of school.

Now at the age of 18, he is taking back his life and has just been registered to complete his Grade 9 certificate at an online school for 2020, after he experienced difficulty being accepted to any school due to his age.

Gobodo sharing a positive message via his Facebook page.

For many, an ordeal like this would be overwhelming and negatively impact their outlook on life, but not for Gobodo.

While he works at achieving his dream to be a Springbok once again, he is also an advocate for self love.

South Africans across the country and beyond are inspired by his unwavering spirit and determination to achieve his dream despite the set backs he has experienced in his life.

Gobodo training hard on the field.

Recently, he caught the eye of major 2029 Rugby World Cup sponsor, Heineken, and has been given the amazing opportunity to travel outside of the province for the first time to watch the semi-finals between New Zealand and England and South Africa and Wales, live.

An inspiring smile from Gobodo.

After his dreams were seemingly destroyed by the jealousy of others, Gobodo has not let it hold him back, rising from the ashes and getting back on the field to run after his dream.

This is definitely not the last you’ll hear of Qaphela Gobodo, the young man whose determination burns hotter and brighter than any flame.

Pictures: Facebook/Qamisa M

Article written by

Aimee Pace

Aimee is an avid gamer, enthusiastic yogi and animal lover. Addicted to anime, coffee and plant-based meals. Current favourite pastimes include, sewing and learning Japanese.