Sport is the tool that we use to engage and connect with the young people. We collect the students from their schools in our SAG bus and travel to Nelson Mandela University hold our training sessions at the campus playing fields. We have been in partnership with them and using their facilities since 2010. They also host our Academy Cup selection tournament and home matches for us. The projects falls under NMU’s community development scheme.
Sports Academy’s football club, nicknamed The Tigers, is our soccer development programme. All players are selected based on their performance in the Academy Cup primary schools tournament. Sports Academy is the only one of its kind in the South Western Districts and it provides players, from the underprivileged township areas, extra coaching and competition.
The Tigers compete in the George United Football League at under 15 and under 17 levels. We also complete in various tournaments within South Africa.
Sports Academy’s netball club, nicknamed The Rooicats, is our netball development programme. All players are selected based on their performance in the Academy Cup primary schools tournament. Sports Academy is the only one of its kind in the South Western Districts and it provides players, from the underprivileged township areas, extra coaching and competition.
The Rooicats compete in the SWD Women’s Netball League. We have a junior (Under 15) and Senior (Under 19) squad.
Since January 2014 our primary school project has expanded and operates in two primary schools in Thembalethu township. Tuesday and Thursday we are located in Thylora primary, Wednesday and Friday we are in Thembalethu primary. We have 4 coaches operating in our primary school project where we can see up to 120 pupils in one lesson. This is a fantastic opportunity to not only educate young people on fundamental movement skills and teach a subject that is not well catered for but also to minister to a large number of young people who can be changed by hearing the word of God.
At the end of each class we have the opportunity to teach a short lesson on biblical principles using God Cards, teaching the bible, provoking questions and identifying how it can relate to the pupils’ lives at school or home. We are now facilitating assemblies in both schools, which includes us singing praise songs and sharing the word of God to the whole school (800-1000 pupils) and staff.
We also facilitate the sport element of the Life Orientation curriculum and have had our coaches hard at work to create our own curriculum that can now be used to teach the pupils according to the South African education board.
The Sports Academy program runs for the five high school years. During this period the students will not only be doing sports but they will also be mentored in making their future career decisions.
The statistics below (extracted from ‘Confronting Youth Unemployment: Policy Options for South Africa’ Treasury.gov.za) state that about 42 per cent of young people under the age of 30 are unemployed and only 1 in 8 working age adults under 25 years of age have a job.
This is a problem that we believe Sports Academy can try and help improve.
We run programs to prepare the candidates for their first interviews as well
as give them an introduction to basic business. Students will also be assisted to identify their area of interest to help them in making the correct subject choices when entering the final years of school. In their third year of our programme when they are 16 they will have the opportunity to start working holiday jobs with any of our partnering businesses. This will give them some exposure to the area of interest of their future career as well as help them to build up a resume and earn some income. We will then be assisting them in submitting applications to after school programs as well as focusing one to one mentoring during the final two high school years.
We are proud that out of 32 players that have completed our 5 year programme since 2008 14 are now in full time employment and 10 are in further education at college or university.
One to One
SAG staff and volunteers develop deep-rooted mentoring relationships with the students individually through a 10-12 week One2One discipleship programme. The One2One book covers Biblical Foundations including:
Creation/Salvation/Lordship/Repentance/Baptism/Holy Spirit/Prayer/Faith/Bible/Church/Spiritual Warfare
Players that have a relationship with God, have just started a relationship with God, or have an interest in Christianity are taken through this discipleship programme. Several of our players have gone through the One2One book and are now mentoring younger players by going through the book with them.
We host a Saturday night youth club which we have found is a very effective way to engage with the young people on a deeper level in a fun, safe environment while giving them a social occasion to look forward to at the weekend. Coming from different cultures, our players, staff and volunteers are encouraged to interact and learn from each other, and to also be respectful and appreciate each culture and personality represented.
SAG also hosts annual camps for each age group promoting team work and communication, and building relationships.