5 September 2008
South African National Parks (SANParks) has teamed up with the Dreamfields Project to merge the seemingly separate worlds of conservation and soccer for the benefit of young people living in communities situated around national parks.
In a statement issued this week, the Dreamfields Project says its three-year partnership with SANParks’ People and Conservation (P&C) unit – dubbed “Wild about Soccer” – is aimed at engaging young people at the level of their passion: football.
Starting from Saturday, 6 September, school teams from communities on the borders of the world-renowned Kruger National Park will participate in a series of “Wild about Soccer” tournaments, culminating in a final tournament in Skukuza on 4 October.
The Dreamfields Project joined forces with SANParks’ P&C unit to bring the “Wild about Soccer” tournaments to these secluded communities, with every tournament within the project providing an opportunity to educate young people about conservation and the environment.
SANParks CEO David Mabunda has endorsed the project, saying: “The best way to get young people to understand and develop respect for the environment in conservation areas is to start by making positive and visible changes in the environments where they live”.
DreamFields Project founder John Perlman saw the partnership with SANParks as “a way of changing the social make-up in marginalised communities”.
“Wild About Soccer”, he said, was not just about the beautiful game, but was about using sport as means of building knowledge about, and respect for, something worth preserving – our natural heritage.
Dreamfields will provide DreamBags containing a complete soccer kit to the participating schools for continued development of their learners through the game of soccer.
“As a start, we will be handing out DreamBags filled with soccer kits for tournaments in rural communities, but our long-term goal is to help fix up some fields in villages bordering on our parks,” Perlman said.
“We are wild about this project, and wild about our partnership with SANParks.”
‘A force for good’
Launched in 2006, the Dreamfields Project is a section 21 company that uses soccer as a force for good in township and rural schools.
Companies and individuals can sponsor a R5 500 DreamBag to a school. It contains 3 soccer balls, 15 pairs of boots and 15 sets of kit, including numbered shirts, shorts and socks.
The DreamBag handover coincides with a DreamEvent, which is a soccer tournament at which the sponsor, community and other supporters come together and enjoy the beautiful game.
To date, 240 schools and organizations have received DreamBags, while donations and sponsorships are being used to build new soccer fields and improve sporting infrastructure in townships and rural areas.
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