It’s a very bleak reality across South Africa that low standards of education offered to the disadvantaged can become a poverty trap. Although a constant bone of contention, with efforts being made by many parties within our country to better the situation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), still places us at number 75 out of 76 countries worldwide with substandard education – a massive cause for national concern.
So, what do we do to stop this constant cycle, to combat the ripple effect caused by the pitfalls within our system? How do we begin to eradicate poverty, promote economic growth and fit the building blocks of quality education into place? We start a soccer match.
Proudly sponsored by Hansgrohe SA, the Young Bafana Soccer Academy provides youngsters from some of the poorest areas in the Western Cape a chance to erase the penalties of poverty and make tangible life changes. Youth between the ages of 5 and 19 years old now have a place where their potential can be harnessed, through education, life skills and youth development programmes; all whilst honing their soccer skills.
“Our programmes are designed to help individuals develop holistically, build confidence and keep active”, says founder Bernd Steinhage, “Our ultimate goal is to ensure that each participant passes Matric with an exemption so that they can potentially further their studies at tertiary educational institutes.”
The academy works closely with a psychometric professional to provide students with career guidance suited to them through aptitude tests. Academically, the academy offers Maths and English tuition supported through Somerset West Private School and Maths Man, and players with both literacy and numeracy difficulties are assessed and provided with programmes to address these issues. The academy also has two full time teachers who are on hand to provide academic support to any of the beneficiaries.
And the best part? The students get to not only polish up their academic skills, but their soccer ones too. The soccer programme includes training five times a week, along with soccer kits for the players. Safe transport to and from their homes ensures that they never have to miss a session and each and every player receives a meal at every practice session. Whether they have high hopes of becoming Bafana Bafana’s next goal kicking superstar or are there to have fun with their friends while learning, the Academy offers them a safe space to put aside their economic struggles and just enjoy themselves, scoring an education along the way.
Thanks to the unwavering dedication of Steinhage and his team, the boys at the Young Bafana Soccer Academy are embracing their academic futures and kicking poverty to the curb – one goal at a time.