With our last world-cup style tournament being held for Egagasini Secondary School on 15 June, our work in Umlazi, one of South Africa’s biggest townships, has come to an end. Since 2009, our Life Skills curriculum ‘On the Ball’ was taught in eight schools in the area and has made a difference to the lives of thousands of young boys and girls.
Over the last year alone we have engaged more than 1,400 adolescents from Umlazi in our programmes and have shown them a way to a safer, healthier and more enjoyable way of life. During the three or eight session workshops all participants learned a lot about HIV & AIDS, the different ways of prevention and the threat of STIs and other diseases. Also, they gained valuable life skills that will help to strengthen their self-esteem, to find their position in the community and to enable girls to reach equal positions in the society.
Through our activities on the pitch that we use as metaphors for life, the kids received a chance to develop and improve their football skills. Furthermore, they took part in one of our famous world-cup style tournaments as a reward for completing the Life Skills curriculum. Every player was awarded a medal as well as a certificate of participation which will remain as a reminder and link to the great experiences they made during our programmes.
Over the past two years, the Umlazi project was funded by our partner organisation Oxfam and was facilitated by our Life Skills trainers Sithule Biyela and Siphelele Sibisi. Overall, our work in Umlazi was successful and ‘On the Ball’ acquired a high reputation and standing within the Umlazi community. As a result, more and more schools started approaching us in order to participate in the programme and we are absolutely pleased with the positive response we have received over time.
With the funding of the Umlazi project having come to an end by June 2012, WKU took the strategic decision to focus our attention on the community of Edendale in the next year. In this township outside Pietermaritzburg our WhizzKids United Health Academy is based and our Football for Hope Centre is about to be built. These components allow for a long-term support of the community, thus backing up our Life Skills programme ‘On the Ball’.
We would like to thank all the stakeholders who have been involved with the Umlazi project which we believe has saved lives and created a better future for many young people in this community. A special thank you goes to Oxfam for their continued support, to Siphelele and Sithule, to all the school staff, and most of all to the kids who were so cooperative and always inspire us with their enthusiasm for life.