Lunga Sidzumo

Community project coordinator: Grassroot Soccer

Growing up in Khayelitsha surrounded by gangsters, drugs and crime, it is easy to give up on your dreams. But "giving up� is not part of Lunga Sidzumo's vocabulary. "I knew there was more to life than what was in front of me. All I needed to do was search for it,� he says. Sidzumo's love of soccer proved to be the key. When he completed Grade 12 in 2001 he became a volunteer coach for Grassroot Soccer (GRS), a non-profit organisation that uses the power of the Beautiful Game to stem the tide of HIV by educating young people about their responsibilities and choices. Being a volunteer coach for the "11 for Health� pilot programme Sidzumo became a Grassroot Soccer coach and eventually secured a full-time position as a community project coordinator. In 2009 Sidzumo, together with other GRS members, co-founded Ragball International, a groundbreaking income-generation project that gives young people entrepreneurial skills by teaching them to make soccer balls from recycled rubbish. The project's slogan proclaims: "One man's trash is another kid's future.� He is proud that the project has transformed the lives of so many young people in his township. "It has enabled them to feel a sense of independence,� he explains. "Some have registered for school with the money they make.� In 2010 his work was recognised when he was awarded the prestigious MAC Aids Leadership Initiative Fellowship. The year-long training, which aims to cultivate emerging leaders in the field of HIV education, helped him to develop his HIV and gender awareness programmes at township schools and at the Khayelitsha Football for Hope centre. Today, Sidzumo is famous in his community. He's in demand as an MC for weddings and funerals and is a much-loved mentor to hundreds of teenagers. But he still never misses a chance to cheer his local soccer team to victory. � Sibongile Nkosi

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