The accomplished left-sided player of course has his own goals and aspiration as a player, and has achieved much, including back-to-back trebles with Orlando Pirates and being capped at senior international level by his country.
But when he laces up his boots ahead of a match, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he is trying to achieve as a person – indeed Cloete carries the hopes and dreams of the Northern Cape region on his shoulders.
Born and raised in Upington, the 30-year-old knows all too well of the struggles which face most South African people living in small towns; away from the limelight, especially with regard to talented youngsters battling to realise their sporting potential.
His work within the Northern Cape region is extensive, and driven by a genuine passion to make a difference. To this end he has established the Ruben Cloete Football Academy, regularly running clinics in the region and assisting promising players in securing trials at clubs in the PSL.
He also runs an annual tournament, works closely with the Department of Correctional Services, and is involved in the Babies Behind Bars initiative.
|“The Northern Cape will always be where my heart is. The area has absolutely no exposure and in order to get where I did in my career, I had to go outside of the area.
“There are no opportunities there, and my mission is to try and bring hope and opportunity.
Through my experiences, and through my contacts, I want to make it possible for talented people to realise their potential.
"I don’t want the next Ruben Cloete to only come out in five or six years time – there is enough talent there for the area to be producing professional players much more regularly.
“This is where my passion lies – it’s about what I can give, I don’t do this for my own benefit. Myself and my manager Adam Visser take money out of own pockets because we believe in what we do and we can see the benefits,” said Cloete.
The player also has strong feelings on the current education crisis gripping the area.
“Its very sad, the situation, especially in areas like Olifantshoek and Kuruman. Kids there have been out of school for three months. I sympathise with the issues the people have over service delivery and living conditions.
“Its been a good move for me. I’ve settled in quickly. The players have made me feel welcome here and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
“But keeping the kids out of school should not even be a last resort, it should not happen at all. What kind of message is being sent to the children? Without education there is no hope and no future.”
Back to Maritzburg, where Cloete’s performances are monitored closely by his home community, the player continues to be a positive role model with his professional conduct on and off the field.
He has been an integral part of the Team of Choice’s positive start to the campaign and is determined to continue to help the club achieve success.
“It has been a great start for us, one can’t deny that. But the sign of a really good team is consistency, so that’s what we are chasing.
“But we have a good squad. The players believe in ourselves, in each other. We believe in the coach and he believes in us, so there is reason to be optimistic and feel that we are going to have a good season.”
* For more info on Ruben's projects, you can visit www.rubencloete.co.za - the site will be live from Monday 10 September *