Football to address fatherlessness in South Africa

by Ambassadors In Sport
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.


The Drakenstein Hope Academy was fortunate enough to receive a visit and some soccer training from 2 professional soccer players from the UK. James and Adam Chambers are twins and play for Doncaster Rovers and Leyton Orient in the English Football League. James shared with the boys the highlight of his career which was playing in the FA Cup Semi Final for Watford and marking Christano Ronaldo!!

James brought 80 jerseys from his team in the UK (Doncaster) and donated them to all the boys in the sports academy.

It was a great time and the young men were encouraged by the visit and meeting 2 professional role models.


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

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.


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


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Organization Information

Ambassadors In Sport

Location: Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​
Ambassadors In Sport
Project Leader:
Ben Marais
AIS SA Director
Pretoria, Gauteng South Africa

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