Transforming juvenile offenders in South Africa

Jul 6, 2010

ABC News Report

The World Cup has given us the opportunity to showcase the work we are doing amongst juvenile offenders in prisons around South Africa. We have had visitors from all over the world come and encourage the young men in prison. One highlight was having ABC News from the US come and run a story on the positive impact the program has made within the prison. ABC also went into the community to film a young man who had been released from the prison Academy, it was clear for all to see the challenges these young men face once released.

Please continue to support us as we do all we can to help these young men fulfill their dreams and have the opportunities and support all of deserve.

You can catch the program by clicking on the following link:

Also check out the blog from GlobalGiving on the project:

Thanks, Mark Slessenger

Jun 22, 2010

Cycle for Hope

Over the World Cup we are glad to share that the Hope Academy project has received much interest from visitors around the world. One of our supporting offices in Northern Ireland arranged a cycling project to raise awareness and support for all our Hope Academies in South Africa. The Cycle for Hope team began in Morocco and arrived in Drakenstein prison on the 9th of June. The team were also joined by the Correctional Services cycling team and Lee Sharpe who is the patron of the Hope Academy program. We had an amazing day where the cycling team (which has cyclists from around the world) heard stories from the boys in the academy and they could see what all their hard work was for, many were visably moved when they heard of how the boys lives have changed from being in gangsterism to focusing on a brighter future. The day included a tour of the house Nelson Mandela stayed in before he was released and a match between the visitors and the prisoners. The boys in prison were moved by the support and care shown by people all over the world and it was a great day.


May 25, 2010

Hope Academy Progress Report

Drakenstein Hope Academy Squad 2010
Drakenstein Hope Academy Squad 2010

It has been a busy time leading up to the World Cup but here is a brief update on the work in both Drakenstein and Leeuwkop Academies. We will send you a full report post World Cup on all the events. I am glad to announce and welcome Lindsey Petit to our Drakenstein team. Lindsey brings a wealth of experience and knowledge as she oversees the educational part of the academy. With her assistance we have placed many boys in the prison school and put boys on correspondence courses to further their education. Lindsey will monitor their progress - welcome Lindsey! It is crucial for prisoners to be encouraged in skills development and education and this is a step in the right direction. We are also meeting with the College of Cape Town to discuss scholarships for the young men who come out of prison for skills development in woodwork, metal work, welding and electrics. Recently a meeting was arranged with Leeuwkop management to discuss current logistical barriers to the academy running fully. The Commissioner of the prison gave his support and we are now working on getting everything in place to run the academy fully post World Cup. Drakenstein Academy continues to be our model of excellence to other prisons. The young men are working through the 17 Qualities of a Team Player by John Maxwell. Their behaviour remains positive and the they won their first league match 7:2. Adam Bull continues to do a great job developing the team in Drakenstein. The academy was also invited to play a match to open a new sports facility in Goodwood prison on the 20th of May. The Academy showcased their talents to top management and Fifa reps and won 8:1. We recieved many positive comments about th behaviour e of the young men and also their footballing talent. We have developed a partnership with a team in one of the townships (Phillipi). This team will continue to develop boys from the academy in their football development. We currently have 4 boys connected to the team. One of our boys Precious Wonga Mhaga is very ill with XDR-TB we need much prayer and support for him at this time. TB has become a big problem within prisons around South Africa. On the 22nd of May we held a follow up meeting with boys released. Most of them were doing well but one boy was struggling for support and doing drugs. This is a common challenge for prisoners when released. It was encouraging to hear that they were all either studying or working. We have also had boys come out of prison and join our soccer events in the communities. Recently 4 boys joined us to help coach a soccer clinic in a poor community outside Cape Town. Thanks for all your support and prayers for the Hope Academy and making a positive difference to young lives in South Africa. Mark Slessenger

Mar 12, 2010

News Flash

Westville Prisoners after Soccer Clnic
Westville Prisoners after Soccer Clnic

World Cup Launch & Partnership Agreement. We are delighted to announce that Ambassadors In Sport (AIS) have signed a partnership agreement with The Department of Correctional Services. The Hope Academy project will be one of the legacy programs of DCS during 2010 and beyond. AIS were invited to the DCS World Cup regional launch in Westville Correctional Facility in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Westville is the next centre of excellence that has been highlighted to launch a Hope Academy in 2011. The program of the day included: soccer clinics (run by AIS), speeches from national management in DCS and guests, signing of agreement between AIS & DCS and three soccer matches including a match between Golden Arrows (professional team in Durban) and the select wardens team. The day was a huge success and the excitement from national office around the Hope Academy project was evident with everyone we spoke with. The day after the launch we did a presentation for Westville DCS Management on the academy. Westville have shown a strong desire to run the program and launch a fully fledged Hope Academy beginning 2011. AIS will work alongside DCS to lay all the foundations for the academy during 2010. We are thankful for the success in Hope Academy thus far in both Drakenstein and Leeuwkop and we know that without Him none of this would have been possible. Drakenstein & Leeuwkop Update We launch the 2010 Drakenstein Academy on March the 15th. Adam Bull (new head coach) has been laying the foundations for the new season. Trials have been done in 5 different juvenile centers around the Western Cape and we have selected an initial squad of 15 boys. There are many exciting partnerships developing with Drakenstein but that will be highlighted in the next full report. We will not launch in Leeuwkop as we need to meet with management to iron out some issues raised from last year. Leeuwkop is still developing as an academy and we hope to have the academy running in full swing later this year.

Nov 23, 2009

Re: Update

Inmate doing his coaching assessment at coaching course.
Inmate doing his coaching assessment at coaching course.

Dear Friends,

Well we have come to the end of another year. This year has been our most productive with the Hope Academy projects.

TREC (Training Resourcing & Equipping Coaches)

This was run for the first time in Drakenstein. The course ran for a week and trained the inmates how to use sport to impact their communities.

The young men were trained as coaches. The response was brilliant and the inmates surprised everyone.

The course showed that these young men can use soccer to bring hope and change back in their communities once released.

Drakenstein Graduation

It was great to hear the testimonies and progress that many of the young men in Drakenstein had made this year.

Ex Academy members came and we celebrated the year with a meal and recognition of players who had impacted the Academy on and off the field.

The Academy also ended the year unbeaten and were presented the league trophy.


Leeuwkop has been setting the foundation for the new season in 2010.

Trials have been done and most of the squad selected.

The Academy will enter a league which is an exciting new development.


You may remember that AIS and government were in discussions about a partnership agreement leading in 2010.

This agreement has been approved by Correctional Services legal team and will be signed in early 2010.

This agreement will enable AIS to run and oversee hope Academies in Correctional Centers around South Africa.

This will enable us to reach more young men through the program and see God impact their lives.


New inmates will be selected to be in the academies next year. Some boys will be released and others will remain in the program.

With the World Cup happening there will be many visiting teams and events for the Hope Academies. It will be an exciting year.

End of year graduation of inmates.
End of year graduation of inmates.
Celebrating winning the league trophy and a successful year.
Celebrating winning the league trophy and a successful year.

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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