A sporting chance: NomFundo Ndlovu, Johannesburg
Across South Africa there are thousands of disadvantaged and vulnerable children who leave school at a young age and miss out on their right to an education. Others become vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and sex trafficking. However, VSO and local partner SCORE aim to tackle these problems through sport and are helping many at risk children on their way to a better future. One girl is NomFundo Ndlovu who has discovered her two passions in life, education and football.
At 15 NomFundo has already had to fight hard for her education. She says, “I was born in Durban; my mother was a prostitute and couldn’t afford to take me to school. She started bringing her clients home to work in the one room we had, where I would have to sleep”. Luckily, one of her mothers friends decided this was no life for NomFundo and she was re-housed at children’s shelter, The House, Johannesburg at the age of 12. Here she could attend school and passed her national education exams in 2006.
Moving forward with SCORE
This fresh start was strengthened by the work of VSO volunteer, Clare Barrell and local partner SCORE. SCORE work across the whole of South Africa helping to change lives through sport. Their aim is to get everyone, especially women and girls, taking part in sport and having the opportunity to access counselling and care.
NomFundo explains, “Clare came and introduced SCORE to us, and bought along coach Mike, who began to teach us how to play football”. She explains further, “when I first arrived I didn’t like to join in, but thanks to SCORE and Mike, I made friends and most importantly could talk to someone about my past”.
Coach Mike Soke, 52, is one for twenty ex-professional football players from SCORE’s Soccer Legends project who deliver football training three times a week to children from shelters and schools in the Johannesburg area. The football training is supported by care and counselling, delivered by volunteers such as Clare, which focuses on life and leadership skills.
Football for life
Mike, was a professional footballer since he was 20 years old, and played for South Africas Orlando Pirates. After retiring in 1990, he married had a family, and retrained as an estate agent. He was motivated to come out of retirement by the offer of retraining with SCORE. He explains, “I became a community coach after training with former Dutch coach Frank Rijkaart and SCORE, I am now a qualified community coach, working with children from the disadvantaged Hillbrow area. Its great to see them enjoy football and give them hope”.
NomFundos bright future
NomFundo is also looking to her own future as she is now a care worker at The House, taking girls just like her to school, helping them with homework and trying to reunite troubled families similar to hers to talk through their problems.
She is proud that SCORE can help girls like her at The Shelter, “before the girls would just lie and lash out when asked about the past, but now we can discover the truth and help these girls”.
NomFundo is still trying to reconcile her own past, but insists on looking to the future and says that her wish is that, “I can move forward and be free, the past shouldn’t hold me back”.