Grassroot Soccer South Africa has committed itself to helping thousands of children take charge of their destinies by providing mentorship and life skills education. The organisation first began programmes in 2006 and currently has sites in Alexandra, Soweto and Khayelitsha. Furthermore, the NPO works with other partners in eight provinces to deliver programmes.
Approximately 70 000 boys and girls are involved every year, between the ages of nine and 19. As we grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, Grassroot Soccer has incorporated hand-washing, facts about the virus, physical distancing and ways to deal with stress into its programme.
Managing Director, Mbulelo Malotana said that the programmes are based on a ‘3 Cs’ approach, including a soccer-based curriculum, coaches who are caring mentors and a culture that promotes safe spaces and fun. He highlighted that this approach engages teenagers in learning and makes them feel supported.
“We provide young people with the life skills they need to break down harmful social norms that negatively impact their health. We also use soccer-based activities and discussions to educate participants on HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender-related issues that affect them and their communities,” said Malotana.
Pule Hlahane, who is a Teacher at the Emshukantambo Secondary School in Soweto, which partnered with Grassroot Soccer since it started, said he has seen children’s lives being changed as a result of Grassroot Soccer.
“It empowers young minds to make informed choices. I have seen shy learners becoming the best they can be, becoming leaders and champions because of the skills they have learnt. And this applies to both boys and girls,” said Hlahane. He also noted that learners who participate in Grassroot Soccer perform better at school and also become role models for others.