Using soccer to help vulnerable children in Africa

by Ambassadors In Sport
Coach Tami delivering life skills!
Coach Tami delivering life skills!

The work at Soweto Hope Academy continues to grow from strength to strength. We continue to invest deeply into the lives of our thirty six children in thier football, faith and future.

Recently we welcomed three new volunteers to the program. This has been an amazing blessing to us as we require further support to help us with coaching and our afterschool educational support program. Jennifer will coordinate HA events, Tebogo will assist as a Future Coach and Nhlanhla will be assisting our head coach Sam Pam.

One of the most exciting developments will be our new container arriving soon. This will be used as a classroom and library for our children. The standard of education in Soweto is generally poor and many of our children struggle to get support and drop out of school, some can end up in crime and gangs and we desire each one of our children to finish their matric and have the opportunity to be successful in life. Investing in education is one of our priorities and we recieved a grant from the FIFA World Cup Legacy Fund to help us develop this component of the program.

We have seen the benefits of our children getting extra educational support. One of our children was told he would not progress from Grade 6, the teachers dismissed the possibility of him developing further and said he would have to repeat. Through some intervention from our coaches and believing in him he passed and is now in Grade 7 - it shows that our children just need some encouragement, love and belief.

Additionally we are so excited to have Sam Pam Jr (ex Nigeria & Orlando Pirates) as our Head Coach. Sam has come in and made a massive impact on the work and implementing our football phiilosophy. The children have responded to him positively and he is a great role model, he has played at the highest level and has brought great credibility to our football component.

Thanks for your continued support, your investment in each one of these childrens lives is making a big difference, not only in each one of our children but in the families and in the community. In essence we are developing 36 leaders and we are already seeing the progress in each one's football, faith and future. 


Mbali Banda
Mbali Banda

Dear friends,

Happy New Year to all of you! Here are some amazing highlights of 2012 in the project.

2012 was an exciting year for the Legalwise Soweto Hope academy. We kicked off the year with an in-house training of the Soweto stuff team by Dave Waters who is a Hope Academy technical director based in Cape Town. The training was on football philosophy which was and still is developed to be unique to Hope Academy. The goal of the training was to empower the team to be able to implement the developed philosophy. This training provided a solid foundation to make the year a success in training our children and givng them the best possible coaching expierence. 

In April we had an event that brought 120 supporters and members of the community who were involved in the field laying of the Hope Academy, coming together for the celebration of the fruit of their labour and to witness the impact of such hard work

As a way of connecting to other children in the community and growing the Hope Academy awareness we had our annual soccer coaching clinic to commemorate the Youth Day on the 16th of June. The highlight of this event is that local coaches who were trained by our coaches through our coaching community course are presented with an opportunity to give back to the kids in the community while gaining experience by putting into practise what they have learned. The event was attended by 116 people.

18 July Mandela day the academy hosted visitors from Durham school based in the UK. The school brought 25 youth and four coaches who came to interact with the Hope Academy kids. The visitors were also taken to visit the local schools were the Hope Academy kids attend as learners. This visit gave the academy an opportunity to strengthen the relations with the local schools.

To further go deeper with the kids the academy went on a two day camp. The theme was royalty and kids were taught that they are very special and should not look down upon themselves. This presented a time of healing for the kids as they opened up. The impact of this camp went beyond our expectations as some of the kids remain open to talk about the everyday challenges they are experiencing in life.

On the 1st of December the kids had a family fun day and an award ceremony. This gave them an opportunity to bond with family members through various activities. This allows families to connect with one another and to see how much they really need each other. The day was ended with an award given ceremony where children were acknowledged and affirmed in various categories. About 102 people came to the event.

There are many stories we could share but meet 12 year old Mbali Banda (pictured). His parents passed on in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and is raised by his granny. In 2010 I went to visit his school to hear about his progress. At that time in grade 4, Mbali’s teachers never gave him a slight chance to progress beyond grade 6. Through being tutored at HA Mbali improved gaining confidence and developing a ‘’work hard’’ ethic and has now progressed to grade 7.

Another celebration was that Nosipho Mahlathi who is 12 years old was selected to play for the South African Football Association regional u13 girls squad. She was spotted at school and was drafted in the squad. She was recently received an award as the most improved individual in Football excellence.

Finally the best news we had recieved was that all our children passed their school year - this gave us a 100% pass rate in the Academy. Recently education has been a topic of conversation and media attention in South Africa because of poor grades and children dropping out of school. Our dedication and focus on education with our children certainly paid dividends.

Thanks for your support and we can't wait to start in 2013 - all the kids come back in early February for the new year.

All the children and coaches at the camp.
All the children and coaches at the camp.

Dear friends, our Soweto Hope Academy project continues to grow from strength to strength. We have seen growth in all of our children. I want to highlight one of our recent events that will give a great update on the progress we are making and impact Hope Academy is having on children's lives.

In the month of September our Soweto Hope Academy went on their very first camp. The objective of the camp was to instil the sense of self-worth and build the self esteem of the children. The theme of the camp was ‘Royalty’ and sessions were built around the truth that each one of our children is special and has great self worth.

All the children managed to go to the camp which was exciting as not one of our chldren had ever been on a camp before. All our children were very excited about this new expierence! It was the first time any of them had the opportunity to explore the outdoors and be surrounded by mountains and away from the busy life found in the township where they live and where the Hope Academy is based.

We were so touched to see our children wait patiently in anticipation to be allocated to their rooms. For many of them it was the first time to sleep in their own bed (many of them share beds with other family members). They were also excited to take a shower for the very first time! During the week many things would be expierenced for the first time which was a joy to witness.

During the weekend our coaches facilitated life skills lessons. The children were taught through biblical life skills, movies, games and stories. During the sessions many of our children were able to open up about some of the traumas and grief that they have experienced in life. The camp was not only for the children to have fun and enjoy themselves but it provided a time of healing for many of them.

One of our sessions that had a significant impact was about fatherhood. Most of our children don’t have a father figure in their lives and were able to open up and speak about this. Other children were also able to share about family members who had played an important role in their lives. For those who have both a mother and father they leant to be appreciative and be thankful for their parents.

Among many things, the children enjoyed time in the swimming pool, playing volley ball, working together during tasks, hiking, watching movies, roasting marshmallows in the fire and also singing around the fire. The wonderful thing about some of these activities was that they could play, interact and have fun and behave as many normal children do. Some of the children found out they had certain abilities, talents and gifts they have that they never thought they had!

Overall the camp was a great success. Since coming back from the camp the impact has been huge and it is evident that many of the childrens lives have changed. Some of the children have opened up and others have become happier and eager to make their dreams a reality.

Having coaches sharing their life stories and testimony of where they have been and how they grew up, helped the children understand that they too can achieve their aspirations. Many of the children could identify with what the coaches went through as they have faced the same challenges in life. This gave them courage and hope that they too can achieve their dreams.

The hope in the children has been resurrected and their faith for success in the future has been restored. The theme for the camp was suitable and relevant as the children can now view themselves differently. They have been able to reflect on their lives knowing that they do matter and that they have a purpose and plan in life. The most important thing is that have learnt how important they are to God and that He values and loves each one of them.

It is such a joy to be walking with each child in their football, faith and future.

Thanks for your support, please consider supporting us further so we can continue to support our children.

Soweto Field Laying Celebration
Soweto Field Laying Celebration

These past few months have been exceptionally busy in Soweto.

Our children have been growing from strength to strength and we are excited about the development of the Academy.

Apart from our usual activities we have held quite a few events in the community. The first was with our corporate partner LegalWise who sponsored our football pitch at the school we train at (see picture below). This was a great day as we invited community members who helped lay the field one year ago, families and our children for games, fun and food. You can read the full update on this day on the link below.

We also decided to run a community football clinic for children in the area as we celebrated youth day. This was an amazing event as we invited the community to celebrate. The day was sponsored by a local business which enabled us to give all the children food, t-shirts so we could provide fantastic day. The business sponsored the Academy for the first time but once they saw the project they have committed to further support in the future. One of our aims in Soweto is not only to develop our children (although this is our main focus) but also use the Academy as a catalyst for community development. In the upcoming months we will be running our 4th coaching training course for coaches in Soweto - this is in partnership with the Soweto South African Football Association and we have trained over 250 community coaches since 2008.

As we continue to develop and mentor our young children we have seen the massive need for educational support in Soweto. Many of our children don't have supportive family structures and struggle in school as the classes are large and they don't get the individual attention they need. The Academy began opening on days when we don't train and our coaches have given extra educational support. This has made a massive difference in the lives of some of our children and we are now in discussions to generate further sponsorships so we can improve this service to the children. The schools have welcomed this as they have seen our children improve in this area.

Thanks for all your support as we continue to make a difference in the lives of many young children in South Africa.


Life Skills Training with Coach Sam.
Life Skills Training with Coach Sam.

Our Soweto Hope Academy has begun with a BANG!

It has been an exciting start the season as we have welcomed all the children from the Academy. This is the third year of the Academy as we continue to invest into each child in their football, faith and future.

The children have started off well. The Academy has received many visits from overseas visitors and also from other African leaders that work for Ambassadors In Sport. Soweto Hope Academy is the flagship model for our other African offices to replicate in the future.

We did have a set back when our offices were broken into but we are thankful that the person responsible for the theft was arrested and was sent to prison. We managed to also recover a lot of the stolen goods.

The children are progressing well, we have been running life skills sessions based on our Core Values which are Compassion, Respect, Self-Discipline, Humility, Integrity, Equality and Excellence.

One of our children said to our Future Coach (who oversees our life skills and education monitoring) - coach I just love you and you are like a mother to me. This is something that happens regularly and the Academy has become like a family to many of our children.

This past month we have had the pleasure of hosting a team from the UK who have spent time in the Academy. This has been amazing as the kids have been able to interact with people from another country. However, as I always say to touring teams - these kids will teach you more than you can teach them!

Finally we are pleased to announce that Hope Academy was awarded recognition from the Nelson Mandel Fund for best practice within the nonprofit sector. This was a great honour for us - see link below for further info!

We value all your support as we continue to develop the children throughout this year and we will keep you all updated with reports!


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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
Faerie Glen, Gauteng South Africa

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