FORMER Masiphathisane High School pupil Lulama "Lara" Maqoko's childhood dream was to become a professional footballer.
The Motherwell teenager, the youngest of three brothers, took his first step towards realising that dream when he signed for Cape Town PSL First Division outfit Santos earlier this month.
Maqoko, 18, started his soccer career with Milan Stars in the N2 area in Motherwell. Three years ago he was spotted by Lulama Lubisi, who is one of the founders of Motherwell Academy, and his career took off.
Last year he played for the Pefa senior team, which finished as runners-up in the Safa-NMB Inter-district Tournament.
Maqoko says his first priority is to help Santos regain their Premier League status.
"Hopefully by then I will be good enough to play for Sundowns."
While Bafana Bafana defender Siyabonga Songwiqi is his role model, Maqoka said to play against Barcelona star Xavi was his dream. "I am grateful to Motherwell Academy, especially coach Mr Big [Lubisi] for giving me the opportunity to get started," Maqoka said.
"I will make them proud."
Meanwhile, another star is rising in the academy camp.
Although he is only 15, goalkeeper Avelo Mahambehlala is playing for the Academy team in the SAB League.