In 2009 our program Soccer 4 Hope formed a partnership with the GTZ. Through this, Soccer 4 Hope became part of the German Youth Development through Football network. This partnership has helped to create a powerful and fruitful relationship that has benefitted me, Khayelitsha, and the other communities in which I work. Through this partnership, Soccer 4 Hope, in partnership with other YDF organizations, held our biggest holiday program ever during the 2010 World Cup. We formed new exciting partnerships that will help us deliver better programs to the youth we work with. The holiday program was a great success, when looking back to the children and young adult’s lives we had impact on.
The World Cup brought so many amazing opportunities for me. Before the competition even started I was invited to Johannesburg to participate in a debate panel at the International Football Village. At first I thought I was just going to be involved in a discussion with many people and I was surprised and honored when I was told that I had my very own topic to cover. I was surrounded by the opposite gender and loved it, because my topic was something I feel very passionate about: “Women in a man’s world”. Being a woman and a soccer coach in my community, I have tried to make a difference by using the opportunities and strengths that soccer has to empower younger women and girls. I really enjoyed being part of this experience and sharing my passion.
I believe true blessings come when we least expect them. This I again realized when I was given an opportunity to meet the wonderful and caring Mr. Wille Lemke (the UN Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace), who was on the debate panel with me. We had a long conversation, about sharing the experiences of the work we do, but it was not nearly enough. He told me about a project that he is working on with African leaders, and that I was one of them. One of his suggestions for me was to learn how to speak German. When I got home after my trip I sent e-mails to friends and colleagues asking for any help to learn German, because I realized the opportunities that could come with learning to speak another language. About a week later, I received an e-mail that I have been given a scholarship to go to German classes at the Goethe institute in Cape Town. This is really amazing, because opportunities like these are very rare for someone coming from a community like Khayelitsha in Cape Town. I made a promise that I will do my best to take away all I could and to really challenge my abilities through this opportunity.
While I was still processing this all and on this amazing journey I heard that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor was coming to visit our program In Harare, Khayelitsha. This is where I work every day, coaching U14 girl’s soccer teams and teaching them the skills they need to survive and grow. I could not believe that Angela Merkel was going to be at my program and in my community. She arrived with our Premier Helen Zille and many journalists. I then had the opportunity to sit next to her and tell her about my program and myself. I felt a spirit and power of what woman can do while sitting with her and sharing with her. This is a spirit and power that I will carry and spread through my community.
When I thought nothing more could happen, I then heard that Mr. Lemke and Dr. Eisenblatter (International Director of the GTZ), was coming to Cape Town and would visit our organization’s Holiday program in Gugulethu. I couldn’t wait to see him again. When we met he invited me to join him at the Netherlands vs. Uruguay match at the Green Point stadium in a VIP suite. This was a very emotional moment, out of all the people he could have asked, he thought of me.
The feeling at the stadium was incredible. Mr. Lemke introduced me to many interesting people. One was a very amazing lady, Dagmar Brandenstein from Germany, who I found as a great inspiration and what I would call “a woman of influence in a man’s world”. I wish I could have spent more time with her to talk and learn about her work, because I found her very inspiring. One other thrilling experience I will forever cherish is sitting one row in front of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, South African President Jacob Zuma, Mr. Irvin Khoza, and Prince William from Holland and his wife. This night was so full of surprises. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Prince William came up to me, took both my hands in his hands, and thanked me for supporting his team. Again I was speechless.
Late that night I was still shaking with excitement. I wanted to make it last forever. I wanted to break it into pieces and take it back and share it amongst the children and other people in my community who also longed to be at the stadium and feel the World Cup thrill.
This day was a tremendous day of my life. A day truly filled with joy and excitement. I feel that this was granted by the Dear Lord, through Mr. Lemke, and our program partners the GTZ. I can’t thank you all enough for all you have done for me. One way I will show my appreciation is by working in our communities to empower other people to have the same opportunities as me. Through empowering my young girls, being a positive role model, and planting positive behavior change I can really make a difference in my community and in South Africa. The work I’m doing has been a god sent experience. I am truly doing what I love. Soccer has been a precious part of my life and is a powerful tool for me to teach young girls. I see the joy in their faces when they are given a platform to show their skills, express their feelings, learn and give. This is the same feeling I have working with them and guiding them in their lives. On a soccer pitch is where I feel free and happy.
Nomawethu Sokoyi – Soccer 4 Hope Life Skills Manager