Student Athletes from South Nottingham College’s Football and Rugby Performance Programmes are returning to South Africa in April 2010 for the sixth consecutive Balls To Poverty tour and to compete in National Under 19 Football and Rugby Elite Youth Championships against Professional opposition that includes Ajax and Kaiser Chiefs. The group of 36 students, four of whom are female, will also aim to distribute over 3,000 footballs and rugby balls across deprived township communities in Cape Town. The students will provide football and rugby coaching sessions to over 3,000 young South African children from as many as 8 different these township.
In the last 5 years, 99 different male and female students from The College have coached 25,000 young South Africans across 18 townships from Soweto, Johannesburg to Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. They have also fund-raised to purchase over 21,000 footballs and rugby balls that have been distributed to the children and to school teachers. Government officials for The Western Cape Province estimate that as many as 450,000 youngsters have been given access to games of football and rugby in these townships since 2005.
The Balls to Poverty project was founded and is directed by South Nottingham College Director of Athlete Performance Programmes, Joe Sargison, who first visited a township in Soweto in 2004. Speaking about the project, Joe said: “It has been a great honour to have seen the positive effects of our project on the young people at our College and at schools across Nottingham. What started out as a one-off experience has developed into a project that has won national awards and has seen 99 different students travel to some of the most deprived townships imaginable in South Africa. Over 7,000 School children from inner-city Nottingham primary and secondary schools have also received coaching from our students as part of our contribution to our own communities. Over 70% of our students have continued their education at College or have graduated to higher education at universities across the UK. Twelve students have secured Soccer Scholarships at American Universities. In addition, many members of staff at the College and contacts outside of College have made fantastic contributions towards the development of the project. By the end of The 2010 World Cup, 120 different young student athletes from our Football and Rugby Performance Programmes will have distributed a minimum of 25,000 balls and will have coached 30,000 children in South African townships. The vision is that these students will use their skills and experiences to act as role models and to inspire other young people in our own communities across Nottingham”.
Key milestones to date include:
Ø Joe Sargison was selected to represent The East Midlands at The national Pride of Britain Awards in October 2009 and to meet with Gordon Brown at 10, Downing Street to publicly recognise the work carried out through The Balls To Poverty Project.
Ø The Professional Footballer’s Association (The PFA) selected Balls To Poverty as one of their three official international causes for The World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and have appointed high-profile World Cup Ambassadors to support the project.
Ø Nottingham Forest Football Club named Balls To Poverty as their official Charity for the 2009/10 Season.
Ø Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent University selected Balls To Poverty as their official Charity for The University Sports Varsity Series in 2009.
Ø The Association Of Colleges awarded South Nottingham College The National Beacon Award in 2008 for Balls To Poverty and students from The College made presentations at the key Sponsors Dinner in Westminster in July 2008.
Ø 99 different male and female students from diverse areas of Nottingham have coached in some of the most deprived townships in South Africa. This number will increase to 120 by April 2010.
Ø 5 years ago 30 footballs started the project, 21,200 footballs and rugby balls have since been distributed and more than 25,000 young South Africans have received coaching from students from South Nottingham College.
Ø By 2009, the students had also built 5 football pitches and erected metal goalposts in rural villages in The Transkei Region of The Eastern Cape of South Africa. In April 2009, the students will embark on a new community development project in rural Cape Town.
Ø Students from previous tours have continued their studies at the College and over 30 have gone on to higher education at universities across the UK and USA. Several are currently working in the sports industry in Nottingham following graduation from College.
Ø Nearly 1/3 of Balls To Poverty students from the 2008 tour are currently studying on University degree programmes in USA having earned Soccer Scholarships.
Ø Danny Johnson graduated from College to coach in Johannesburg for 9 months before returning to Nottingham to work towards becoming a coach. He is now part of The Football Performance Programme’s coaching staff and returns in 2009 as a senior member of staff.
Ø 15 different primary and secondary schools from inner-city Nottingham have formed a partnership with the project. Students from College return from South Africa to re-enact the township football and rugby coaching sessions in their play grounds and on school fields. Over 7,000 school children have already received coaching and many have held non uniform days to fund-raise towards the purchase of the footballs and rugby balls that are distributed.
The Balls to Poverty project is being sponsored for the fifth consecutive year by Unite, the UK’s largest private sector union. Unite is involved as part of its campaign to expose young people in the UK to the activities of trade unions and deliver positive help to developmental projects in Africa.
Derek Simpson, General Secretary of Unite, sponsors of ‘Balls to Poverty’, said: “Unite is proud of its association with Balls to Poverty. Our Union sponsored Balls to Poverty last year and has seen what positive experiences and opportunities the project provided for young people in the UK and in South Africa. Unite believes that change starts at ground roots and that powerful things can be achieved by engaging with people through their universal experiences, be that through football, through politics or peoples’ experiences at work.”
The project will also be supported in 2010 by The Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA), Nottingham Forest Football Club and Nottingham Rugby Club, with plans to brand the 3,000 footballs and rugby balls to be distributed in April 2010. These partnerships represent great opportunities for well-known professional sport Clubs to support community-focused initiatives and to demonstrate the power of sport as a tool for social, community and educational development in young people.
Balls To Poverty works in partnership with The South African Partner, “Sports Stepping Stones” and they, for many years, have been operating a sports development programme using role models from the immediate township communities to engage with young people from the most deprived townships across the Province. The partnership between Balls To Poverty and Sports Stepping Stones will enable students from South Nottingham College to work alongside Sports Assistants from across The Western Cape Province to coach young people. The affects of this work will be monitored by Government officials and data will be recorded on the associated affects on crime reduction in those areas.