Bafana Bafana midfielder, Kagisho Dikgacoi, may have spent most of his playing career in the UK, but he has not forgotten where his roots are; through his charity, the Kagisho Dikgacoi Foundation, he wants to give back to his hometown of Brandfort.
Partnering with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and the Crystal Palace F.C. Foundation, Dikgacoi’s foundation launched the Isagoyarana Football Coaching Development Programme (IFCDP) in March, 2014. The programme aims to empower and educate underprivileged South Africans aged 18 to 24 through football.
Dikgacoi said that with the IFCDP, the three organisations will engage directly with South African government and the private sector to develop the sport in the country.
The programme, based in Bloemfontein, will target unemployed youngsters who also lack access to education, training and mentors. “It will focus on job creation, developing valuable life skills as well as identifying talent both on and off the football pitch,” said Dikgacoi.
He credits his grandparents and mother for teaching him about community service from a young age. “Ever since I turned professional I have been giving back to the community on a personal level. But I can make more of a difference through setting up my own foundation.”
Dikgacoi said that poverty in South Africa prevents gifted youth from realising their potential. He added that the foundations’ partnership will unearth these talents; “We want to help as many people as we can. If I can say in a year that we have helped hundreds of kids get jobs and maybe some working for the foundation itself that would be awesome.”
It is not the first time Dikgacoi’s foundation is partnering with Crystal Palace F.C. Foundation for a programme. In June 2014, both organisations, along with Exercise Teachers Academy (known as ETA College), hosted an accredited football coaching course for 30 participants -most from disadvantaged backgrounds – from Bloemfontein. Some are coaches for high school and local club teams but do not possess the basic knowledge to make a real impact.
The project aimed to provide a level one qualification to improve participants’ quality of football coaching to increase their employment opportunities.
It is also not the first time the Rio Ferdinand Foundation has been involved in a project in South Africa. In 2012, it partnered with the Breaking Barriers Programme, Active Communities Network and ETA College to deliver sporting sessions and coaching and educational workshops to youth from disadvantaged communities in Cape Town.
Dikgacoi was born in Brandfort near Bloemfontein, where crime and drug abuse is prevalent. At age 20 he joined lower-league side Bloemfontein Young Tigers before being snatched up by Golden Arrows. In 2009, he signed for London-based club Fulham after a successful trial and has played in the UK ever since. In the past three years he has been a vital player in Crystal Palace’s setup. However, he deigned to sign a new contract with the club and instead opted to join Cardiff City, completing the deal in June this year.
Dikgacoi credits football with keeping him off the streets and his grandfather for inspiring him to take up the sport and turn it into a career.
Before he started the foundation, Dikgacoi was involved in numerous charitable ventures including mentoring young footballers through the Crystal Palace F.C. Foundation and hosting a regular youth tournament in his hometown.
The Kagisho Dikgacoi Foundation was established in the UK in 2013 to improve the lives of young adults in South Africa through training in sports coaching, management, employability skills, and by providing job opportunities.
The foundation runs four programmes in Brandfort; these include a youth football tournament; a scholarship fund that aids children whose parents cannot afford school fees; a sporting equipment fund that provides impoverished schools with sports gear; and an enterprise fund that sponsors social projects that benefit youth.