June 18 2010

Off the streets and onto the field

18/06/2010 - While many South Africans were bemoaning Bafana Bafana's dismal 3-0 loss to Uruguay in the World Cup on Thursday morning, local Mamelodi children were learning ball skills from former Dutch soccer stars. Some of these children still harbour hopes of playing for their national team.

Photo: Brenda Dimbleby
From left: Jack, Guido Albers (in the background), Aron Winter and Pierre van Hooijdonk - Photo: Brenda Dimbleby

Four former Dutch football players who are now part of the World Coaches Programme joined local coach Jack (who grew up at the SOS Children's Village in Mamelodi) at the Rethabile Sports Ground in Mamelodi on 17 June to train SOS and community children with some ball skills.

Dutch players Aron Winter (who played as a football midfielder), Guido Albers ('Mister Footvolley'), Pierre van Hooijdonk (striker) and Ruud Krol (defender, and who is also currently the manager of South African Premier Soccer League side Orlando Pirates) joined local coaches and delighted children with their soccer

The World Coaches Programme is a partnership between KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Association) and SOS Children's Villages. Both parties bring skills to the table, the SOS family strengthening programme, life skills and this coaches programme offer children a future in South Africa.

Photo: Brenda Dimbleby
That's how stars let children grow (Pierre van Hooijdonk and one of his fans) - Photo: Brenda Dimbleby

One of the main sponsors of the programme is OAD Reizen, a travel agency in the Netherlands. Wim Gramsma said the company feels socially responsible and giving to a charity such as SOS Children's Villages is of benefit to everyone.

The "Football Clinic" held in Mamelodi on the sports grounds behind the SOS Children's Village was the kick-off for the World Coaches Programme in South Africa. "This is a dream come true for me," said Jack. His own soccer team participated in the programme. Jack was one of the coaches to take part in the first training in South Africa of the World Coaches Programme. There were 22 coaches from across South Africa. The training was an introductory level football coaching course and life skills workshop for community coaches. "We learnt how to plan for training," explained Jack.

Van Hooijdonk, who was capped 46 times for the Dutch national team, and noted for his spectacular free kicks, trained a group of boys at goals. He was full of joy as he shared his time and expertise, while making the girls giggle with his playful winks. Thami (13) from the Mamelodi community said, "Playing soccer keeps us off the streets. Today we learnt to juggle, shoot and many other ball skills."

Photo: Brenda Dimbleby
Learning sessions also in theory were part of the "Football Clinic" - Photo: Brenda Dimbleby
Miss Netherlands 2009, Francis Beukeveld, was also part of the group who visited the village and the clinic.
"It is great to see the children so happy to just play football. I think sport is important for children to express themselves and I am thankful people are teaching them. The World Coaches Programme is doing a great job!"

Dutch as well as local media covered the event. After the clinic players and media had lunch at the village and then a tour.