Ordinary community members do extraordinary things – sport to overcome life’s challenges

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    The Youth Alive Sports Project is a non-profit organization that aims to improve the lives of girls and other youth in the informal settlement through sports.

    The  youth of Diepsloot face a lot of challenges, but one organization is aiming to give them support, a chance to be healthy and opportunities in life through sport.

    The Youth Alive Sports Project non-profit organization was founded in Diepsloot this year by Precious Hlaka and Johannes Molepo and held their first-ever 5-a-side soccer tournament for adolescent girls in early June. The organization works to support soccer players and athletics runners in the informal settlement through a number of programs and is particularly focused on adolescent girls, who face a number of difficulties as they grow up.

    “Through my coaching career I’ve identified challenges that girls face here,” explained Hlaka, who coaches the sport at a number of schools in the greater Fourways area. “These include facing changes in their bodies without being able to afford toiletries. Once we identified challenges, we started thinking about how we could assist.”

    Besides Hlaka and Molepo, Tamlyn Stevens has also joined the team to support this work and helps out with administration work, encourages media coverage of Youth Alive and helps to find sponsors for necessary goods.

    “We want to give underprivileged girls a platform to take part in sports, both soccer and athletics,” said Hlaka.

    The Youth Alive Sports Project is currently running two programs: the Active Girls Programme and the JD Tournament. The former collects necessary items like sanitary pads and sports bras from donors and then redistributes them to girls and young women from the informal settlement, while the latter is soccer-based and aims to keep youngsters in the sport by providing opportunities for older adolescent players (both boys and girls). One way they hope to achieve this is by setting up ways for these players to play and interact with professional teams.

    “[The JD Tournament] is aimed at players between 12 and 16 years old. This is a vulnerable age for a lot of young people, as they are trying to find themselves and fit in with their peers,” Molepo added.

    Although the non-profit is new, their aim is to get boys and girls active in sports. A big focus right now is making the community aware of who they are and what they do. Molepo hopes by the end of the year, at least 50 percent of Diepsloot’s population will know about Youth Alive. More projects and tournaments are in the works, including hopefully a mentorship program for young participants. After joining up with the Fitness For Africa running club, the organization also hopes to develop a strong running group for girls.

    “We want to empower females and others,” Melepo added.

    “And we want other people to come on board as well. It’s not about us, it’s about empowering the youth so that they can see a future for themselves.”

    The team behind the Youth Alive Sports Project is always looking for contributions from the public – financial donations are welcome, and sanitary pads, sports bras, and sports equipment can be dropped off at a number of locations, including the Pick n Pay in Lonehill and both Fourways High School and Dainfern College on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 pm.

    Details: The Youth Alive Sports Programme Facebook page; Precious Hlaka 079 673 8675; Johannes Molepo 074 998 7474; Tamlyn Stevens 079 517 8216.