Nkanyiso Dlamini loves football for the difference it can make on and off the pitch; through his organisation, Football Solves Problems (FSP), he plans to harness the life-changing potential of the beautiful game.
Dlamini says, “Life is just like a game; in football you need to be disciplined, you need to work hard, both as an individual and as a team.
“There are a lot of ethics involved, and all of this together gives you a good temperament and helps you build a good attitude that you can apply in real life.”
FOOTBALL SOLVES PROBLEMS: THE BEGINNING
In 2012 Dlamini joined Bidvest Wits Football Club as a youth video analyst, travelling across the country.
He says, “What I noticed was that wherever I went, no matter how hard things were, these people would always play football.
“Football is not only the most watched and participated [in] sport in the world but also one of the cheapest to play.
“This allows it to be played by anyone, rich or poor, black or white, religious or not religious; and makes it a perfect medium for integrating communities and learning things that can’t be taught in the classroom.
“Since I and so many other people are in love with football it just made sense, so I decided, Football Solves Problems. The title says everything.”
Dlamini says he realised he needed to take a proactive role in South Africa’s transformation, and that he “always wanted to help people, teach them how to dream”.
“So I decided to do exactly that, in a way that I know how.”
In early 2014, Dlamini, with a group of friends, started Football Solves Problems.
Amongst his colleagues are Azra Fredericks, Gabriel Ally, Avile Maja, Lauren Tomes and Mbali Mthethwa who each had a pivotal role to play in FSP’s success.
HOW DOES FOOTBALL SOLVES PROBLEMS WORK?
Football Solves Problems uses sports to teach children aged nine to 18 important skills to help them reach their goals.
Dlamini says, “Things like motivation, passion, discipline and team work are essential in any sports and vital in football. If children can take those qualities from sports and implement them in their lives, they will be building their own bridge towards their own success.”
The organisation teaches children skills to help them make positive decisions; these include: being proactive in making changes in their lives; planning their routes to success; prioritising their goals; having a positive attitude; understanding their circumstances before acting; and how to work as part of a team.
“We want to break the cycle created by an impoverished and doubtful mindset instilled in our underprivileged communities, one community at a time,” says Dlamini.
“Sport seems like as good a tool as any to help us accomplish this.”
WORKING WITH RIVERLEA PRIMARY AND ST DAVID’S
The organisation’s first life skills and football workshop, which took place on 15 March this year, took children from Riverlea Primary School in the west of Johannesburg to St David’s Inanda High school.
“Gabriel Ally, our treasurer at FSP, has a good relationship with St David’s,” Dlamini explains.
“So we approached them with a proposal and found that they were interested and very willing to help us make our event possible.”
On the day the Riverlea pupils met students from St David’s Inanda High school, with whom they shared stories and experiences, understanding each other’s circumstances, and worked together to realise their true potential.
In a letter addressed to FSP, Marcel Elephant, principal at Riverlea Primary School, said, “I would like to thank you [FSP] for exposing our underprivileged learners to a world that they may otherwise would not have seen.
“The impact you have had on these kids was overwhelming. I hope your group will continue to touch and make a difference in the lives of children.”
PLAY YOUR PART