Transforming juvenile offenders in South Africa

Dec 9, 2010

End of Year Report.

Wow! What a year we have had in the Drakenstein Hope Academy. The year has been extremely successful on many fronts. Throughout the year we have seen many young men develop in their football, faith and future. The past few months have been busy as we prepare for the 2011 season. This year we have had around 200 people visit the Academy from countries all around the World. We have also had around 25 local schools amounting to +-1000 children come and visit the prison, learn about crime and hear the testimonies of the young men in the Academy. We can only marvel at God in what he is doing in and through the Academy. Enjoy some updates from the Academy!


We had the privilege to run a family day alongside Correctional Services for all the young men. Many of the families attended and it was great to see the young men reunite with family members and especially those who have young children outside. The day was a great success.


On the 27th of November we had a graduation day which was a very special time. Many awards were handed out and the young men were rewarded for their hard work and dedication this year. Many will be leaving next year and it was a time to formally acknowledge young men who we have worked with for some time.


We are glad to announce that we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the COCT for educational and skills development of young men who have been released from the Hope Academy Program. This is a significant agreement as we look to empower these young men and give them practical training to help them find employment and realise their dreams. An article on Hope Academy was also published in the College’s regional magazine about our partnership. We have had two young men on the Electrical Engineering course and one young man is signed up on the Automotive course for 2011.


Over the past few months we have been facilitating trials in other prisons across the Western Cape. These trials are to select new squad members for 2011. We have selected 30 inmates on our provisional list and these young men will be invited for a final trial in January 2011. We hope to have the new squad in place by the end of January 2010.


What is going to happen to all the young men being released?  With 85% of prisoners returning to prison in South Africa Hope Academy makes every effort to support our ex-Academy members once they leave prison. Here are some stats on the 20 boys who have graduated from Hope Academy since 2008.
Studying        21%
Employed    26%
Unemployed    32%
Unknown    11%
Back in Prison    10%


Finally I would like to thank all our supporters and partners for helping us bring true hope to these young men in prison. Without you it would not be possible.
I would also like to thank our team in the prison Adam Bull, Dinesh Nevins Selvadurai, Lindsey Petit and Bruce Nadin for all their hard work and dedication.

With thanks, Mark Slessenger

Player Profile

Chris Ntese has been with the Academy since 2009. Chris will be released in January and has been working on his business management certificate whilst in the Academy. We have high hopes for Chris as he is a talented player and we hope to get him trials with a first division team in South Africa as well as assist him further with his studies. Chris has grown in his football, faith and future and won 2 awards at the end of year Graduation. This young man is going to do great things once released.

Thulani Gantso arrived with us in January from Pollsmoor Prison. It was a miracle that he arrived as we never selected him on the trials! However God had a plan for Thulani and us and he has been a revelation in the Academy. Thulani will continue with us next year and the Academy will be putting him through a Sports Management Course. Thulani is a great example to the other players and can be seen here with his daughter.

Nov 11, 2010

College of Cape Town Partnership

Dear Supporters,

We would like to announce formally our partnership with the College of Cape Town. Our Hope Academy in Drakenstein has signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the College of Cape Town so that young offenders that graduate from the Hope Academy program can receive bursary's to study further and receive skills training.

This is a huge agreement for Hope Academy and enables the program to practically offer great opportunities for young men to gain self respect and gain qualifications that can help them find employment in the future.

"The College is excited to work alongside AIS and offer opportunities to the young men from the Hope Academy. We all deserve a second chance in life and the College of Cape Town believes in helping all young people pursue education and employment. This agreement brings hope not only to the young men from Hope Academy but also to the future of South Africa" Charlene Beeming, Research and Curriculum Development.

Currently the agreement has enabled two young men to join an Electrical Engineering beginners course and we have one ex-Academy member signed up for the Automotive course later this month. With many young men expected to be released from the Academy and prison early next year the agreement gives us the ability to offer something tangible to young men and help them not re-offend and find hope in life.

Thanks for all your continue support.

Oct 17, 2010

Beyond Sport Report and Academy Update

Jacobus Adonis who was released this month.
Jacobus Adonis who was released this month.

At the end of the last month we were priveledged to attend the Beyond Sport Awards in Chicago. The Awards selected a final shortlist of 40 projects from 400 entries around the globe. The Hope Academy project was entered into the Social Inclusion category but we sadly did not win the award. The expierence was very beneficial as we networked with other sports development projects around the globe and we were also involved in workshops and leadership training.

Through the conference we were excited to learn that our prison Academy project is very unique and is one of it's kind worldwide! We shared the concept with other people and they could not believe the freedom we have in transferring young men from other prisons and selecting our players. We believe we have been given a great opportunitiy in this program and through our hard work Correctional Services have seen the benefit of what we are doing.

Here are some statistics from our Drakenstein Academy to show what the young men who have graduated from our projects are doing outside of prison. We have had 19 young men released since we launched in 2008.

32 % Studying

32% Employed

16% Unemployed

10 % Lost Contact

10% Back in Prison

We are excited about how our young men are developing since being released from prison. In South Africa the average recidivism (return to prison) rate of prisoners is 85%. Through our tough discipline, love and holisitic program these young men are truly changing and becoming responsible citizens once released.

We have also developed a strong relationship with the College of Cape Town who offer skills training courses for our young men once released. We have 3 young men signed up already and have courses ready for some of our graduates at the end of this year. This will provide the young men with practical qualifications and job opportunities that will help them lift out of poverty.

Finally one of our Academy members Jacobus Adonis was released this month. Jacobus was one of our brightest star's this year after being transferred from Mossel Bay prison which is 4 hours away from Drakenstein. Jacobus was heavly involved in the 28 gang but transformed his life this year when he joined the Academy. We have linked him to one of our partner churches in George where he lives. This year I personally saw how Jacobus left the gang, changed his life through professing a Christian faith, impacted the whole Academy and showed a strong desire to work within his community once released. This is why the Hope Academy exisits, to see more young men like Jacobus and others have a second chance in life and take it with both hands. There is no better reward than seeing a young life touched and transformed!

Thanks for your continued support and we need your support for the program to continue next year and for us to manage and support the young men once released. Please get in touch if you can assist in anyway.

Kind Regards,

Mark Slessenger

Academy Director


Aug 2, 2010

Proffesional Team Visit

Team Photo with Ajax First Team
Team Photo with Ajax First Team

On Wednesday the 21st of July the academy received a visit from Ajax Cape Town. Ajax are one of the top professional clubs in South Africa and have produced players like Steven Piennar (Everton and South Africa) and Enoch Eyong (Ajax Amsterdam & Cameron). Ajax came and ran a coaching clinic and then played a match against the Academy. We were surprised to learn the head coach of Ajax, Foppe de Hann was going to put out his first team against the Hope Academy. The match was played at a high tempo and many of the Academy players had fantastic games and we only lost 1:0. Ajax then visited the cell where the boys sleep in the prison and learnt more about the program and what they are learning in the academy. The day was a huge success and Ajax said they would like to do more work with the Academy in the future.


Jul 21, 2010

World Cup Report

Cycle for Hope Team Photo
Cycle for Hope Team Photo

AYOBA! The question always posed during the 2010 World Cup was “can you feel it?” Well, we definitely felt it in the Hope Academy program across South Africa! Please take a few minutes to read about some of the events that took place over the World Cup. CYCLE FOR HOPE The Cycle for Hope team arrived at Drakenstein Hope Academy in Cape Town on the 9th of June. The team had cycled down from Morocco through to Cape Town over 6 months to raise support for the Hope Academies in South Africa. One of the cyclists Jan said the following: “When we arrived I saw the Hope Academy at work with young men in Drakenstein Prison and heard the difference it has made to their lives -they have a creed, “Faith, Future and Football”. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!” We would like to thank all the cyclists for the sacrifices they made and for supporting the work amongst young men and women around South Africa. MEDIA REPORTS Over the World Cup we had many people come and visit our projects nationwide. It was great to also receive some media attention and we had both ABC News and SABC 2 do programs on the Academies. The great thing to come from this was the testimonies of the boys we work with. The ABC News reporter asked one young man in our Academy “what is more important to you, football or your faith?” the young man replied “I can live without football but I cannot live without God!” We thank God for the testimony that was shared in these two broadcasts. You can check out the ABC News report below. PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS We were privileged to have both Adam and James Chambers visit our Drakenstein Hope Academy project over the World Cup. James plays for Doncaster Rovers and Adam for Leyton Orient in the UK. Both players shared their story about how they became professional players, they also ran training sessions and James shared about his faith in Jesus and how that has brought a change in his life and his football career. We also had 1000 kits donated to AIS from Doncaster Rovers and these were handed out all over South Africa and to the whole prison academy in Drakenstein. It was an honor to work alongside two humble pro players who wanted to give up their holiday to impact many young men. Both Adam and James made a huge impact and we hope they will come back to work with us further in the future, we wish them all the best for the new football season. BEYOND SPORT We thank God for the opportunities he is bringing to AIS. In June we were placed on the shortlist for the Beyond Sport Global Awards. Approx 350 projects were entered world wide and the top 33 were selected. We were placed in the top 5 in the Social Inclusion category. One of our staff members will be flown to the summit in Chicago on the 24th of Septembertop sports development leaders in the world. We will receive 4 days of training and development and the winners from each category will be announced. Beyond Sport also sent a representative to visit both our Soweto and Leeuwkop Academies in Johannesburg. Her report of the visit can be found on: COLLEGE OF CAPE TOWN We are excited to announce our partnership with the College of Cape Town. Before the World Cup we met at the COCT Head Campus to discuss skills training for boys who come out of the prison Hope Academies. The College have agreed to seek government funding to train our young men who have a Std 8 in a number of different courses. This is an exciting development for us as we look to equip the young people for their future. We hope this will make a big difference in preventing young men returning to prison. GENERAL The Drakenstein Hope Academy has had 19 boys released since it was launched in 2008. Through our follow up and contact we have measured the impact of the Academy. This is what we found out: 21% are studying 26% are employed 21% are unemployed 21% are unknown (we have lost contact) 11% are back in prison (2 boys, one broke parole the other re-committed a crime). We hope to improve this through our partnership with the College as many of our boys unemployed will sign up for the courses offered. It is encouraging to see only 11% of the young men returning to prison, the general stat is 85% of inmates return to prison once released. We can only thank God for this. AFTER 2010 WC! It is our aim to continue developing the Hope Academies nationwide. Our Soweto Academy will be launched officially on the 7th of August. This is an exciting development and the academy is already making a huge impact in the community. You can see the picture of Sam who is an intern and ex-academy member from Leeuwkop Prison Academy coaching at the Soweto Academy. The prison academies will be doing further trials and recruiting juvenile offenders from other prisons as many of the young men have been released. Thanks to all of you who have continued to support the work of our Academies in South Africa. We cannot reach our youth with out your continued prayers, love and support.


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Project Leader

Ben Marais

AIS SA Director
Pretoria, Gauteng South Africa

Where is this project located?

Map of Transforming juvenile offenders in South Africa