Coaching for Hope is an innovative programme which uses football to create better futures for young people in West and Southern Africa. It is part of the international volunteering and development charity, Skillshare International.
Norman is regional programme manager for the charity based in Southern Africa. ‘Coaching for Hope is using football to change lives,’ says Norman. ‘In particular young people who we are developing as leaders such as Nothembo Bambiso who accompanied David Beckham recently to hand over the England 2018 bid.’
The charity taps into the universal passion of football and organise coaching courses where professional coaches from the UK train local youth workers to recognised FA standards.
At the same time, the local coaches learn how to deliver HIV awareness sessions to young people in their communities. So the organisation is helping to create leaders and once the UK coaches leave, the programme staff provide ongoing support to the graduates. This means they can delver Coaching for Hope sessions and develop training initiatives of their own.
With 30,000 children having benefited from the sessions, as well as 700 coaches, it has to be a worthwhile cause. The kids are vulnerable, often orphans or with disabilities who have little access to sport and health education. Helping them in this way means they have the chance to play football in proper kit and take part in a tournament. It can be a life-changing experience which raises their confidence and self-esteem and builds valuable life skills.
While the stars of the World Cup will be the focus of our attention in South Africa, it is worth reflecting on the unsung heroes such as Norman who are rallying round for such an excellent cause. Along with many groups and organisations, he is working to help reduce poverty, injustice and equality. The charity does this by sharing and developing skills and ideas, facilitating organisational and social change and building awareness of development issues. They deserve the biggest cheer this summer.