Email: ntsododumisani@gmail.com
Phone:  Dumisani Nstodo – 072 632 0015
Donate:  http://www.backabuddy.co.za/mini-van-for-ikasi-girls
Website: www.ikasisoccerschool.com

Submitted by: Dumisani Nstodo and Sindiso Joya

The Ikasi Soccer School is a wonderful institution working for the safety and self-confidence of young girls.  The world has often seen how unifying sport can be, and here is a perfect example of how soccer is giving disadvantaged youngsters a fresh chance in life, with the coaches generously giving of their time and effort to the cause.

The founders Dumisani Ntsodo, Sindiso Joya, Oyama Majola, and Sipho Mathwasa have put their hearts into establishing a soccer academy for girls in an effort to give these children something worthwhile to work at after school, and also to show them that they can do anything they put their minds to.

The Ikasi Soccer School is an NGO based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.  Khayalitsha is a vast suburb where many people still struggle financially, and where wonderful people like Sindiso  Joya Soccer, Dumisani Ntsodo, and the above-mentioned volunteers and coaches attempt to encourage young girls to have the courage to plan a brighter future for themselves in a safe environment.

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They were asked a few questions about what had inspired them to start the school as it is really important to get the message out to the wider soccer/football community in order to help these kind people in their efforts.

In an interview the following information on the Ikasi Soccer School emerged.

What was the impetus that prompted you to establish the school?

We saw the need to provide young girls in the community with a safe, educational, after-school football programme that focused on building their self-confidence, feeling of equality in society, and their passion for the sport.  Our aim is to change the narrative, bridge the inequality, gender, and ethnicity gap through sports recreation.  Our mission is to assist schools, educators, parents, and learners to develop girls from various primary schools into confident and responsible citizens, and for them to believe that if boys can, so can they.

Tell us about the girls that attend – the demographics, where they come from, and their life circumstances.

The girls who are participating in our programme are from four different primary schools, and their ages range from nine to sixteen.  We also have a few participants from one of the local high schools.

They are from various locations within Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Makhaza and the Zwe-Zwe Informal Settlement. Almost half of the girls we work with come from incredibly impoverished backgrounds.  Some of them have both parents who are substance abusers, and one of the girls who is orphaned, lives with her old and frail grandmother relying solely on an income from very small government grants.  Because of their life circumstances, some of their parents or guardians cannot afford transport money, and they end up walking approximately 15-20 km to and from school, as well as participating after school for an hour in our programme.

What are some of the statistics about the school – the number of participants to date, how often they train, who the trainers are, and how often they compete.

We currently have 65 girls in our programme, who attend regularly twice a week.  Every Wednesday all the girls assemble at Hopolang Combined School to meet with our international volunteers, African Impact.

We are blessed to have a dedicated and passionate coaching team of volunteers who have been on the programme since its establishment.  These young men are from Khayelitsha and are committed every week without any compensation, despite the fact that they are unemployed themselves.

We compete as many times as we can afford to by entering numerous events outside Khayelitsha, and playing friendlies with private schools like St George’s Grammar School and The Grove School.

We won our very first tournament in 2018 on Women’s Day at the Play Sport for Life event in the U12 division.

What impact are you seeing this initiative have on the girls’ lives?  Can you share some stories of  how the Ikasi Soccer School has made a difference? 

We see a very positive impact as the majority of our beneficiaries who have joined the programme since 2018 are currently still in the programme and are doing well in their studies.  We have received many testimonials from teachers and parents.

Sisterhood is being displayed among the girls, and their behaviour at school has gradually improved since Ikasi has worked with the schools.  One of the parents wrote a testimony thanking Ikasi for the positive change in the attitude of her daughter.  Although the child had been a slow learner before, she has matured and improved a lot over the past two years.

We made a huge impact last year when one of our beneficiaries’ house burnt down, and we had to go beyond the call of duty by raising funds through Sindiso Joya and Friends to fulfill our South African and civil right to have a shelter.  It took approximately two weeks before the family moved back into their newly furnished home with a fridge and cupboard full of food, and a wardrobe full of clothes for all her family members.

 Has the school captured the attention of national and international media communities?

We have sent our girls to the National U17 Trials that were hosted in 2018, and the current head coach, Simphiwe Dludlu, was very proud of our girls, who at that time were only 12 and 13 years old.

In the past two years we have been featured in the local newspaper’s ‘City vision and Vukani’, for the amazing work and events we hosted.  We also featured on Cape Town TV in 2019 where we took four of our beneficiaries and gave them the platform to share and motivate other girls to play this beautiful game.

Eleven of our girls are currently on trial with the RSA Rainbow Team which will participate in the Gothia Cup 2020 in Sweden, and we are certain a positive result will unfold.

What are the greatest needs Ikasa currently faces?  

Our focus this year is to raise money to get our own transport for the girls, as some of them walk from home to school and then still come to training after school.  Parents simply cannot afford to pay transportation fees when we need to play outside Khayelitsha, attend excursions, or when we get opportunities to attend trials.

The biggest reason we need transportation is to ensure the safety of our girls.  Last year on Women’s Day one of the young girls (14) in our programme was abducted and raped on her way to attend a Women’s Day run which was organised by Ikasi.  This was devastatingly heart-breaking.  To say the least, it made us feel helpless that we couldn’t protect this young girl and ensure her safety.  Having transportation will eradicate a lot of our challenges and ensure the safety of our beneficiaries.

Backabuddy has opened a fund for support for our transport which can be found at https:// www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/minivan-for-ikasi-girls.

Can you share your vision for the future of this endeavour?

We wish to build our own safe hub that will ensure proper development, academic tutoring, and regular life skills sessions.

Khayelitsha is, of course, a very densely-populated township, and we hope within five years to potentially work with all Primary Schools in the area, and assist in creating more job opportunities for the unemployed youth who are passionate about sport and community development.

We would also like to have more female volunteers and have them share their stories with our girls.

What final thoughts/insights would you like to share with the readers? 

The Ikasi Soccer School is not just about getting girls to kick some balls and run around a few times a week.  We are about changing the narrative and stigmas, and positively impacting young girls’ long-term future.  We want to create a different mindset, not just with the young girls that we work with, but also within the communities we work in.

To learn more about the  Ikasi Soccer School please visit our website: www.ikasisoccerschool.com

Edited By:  Patricia Becker Stapleton