What language is spoken in the townships?
South Africa has eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. English is spoken in Ocean View and Masi but our children will be taking Afrikaans in school.
Where will we live?
We are looking for a home in Kommetjie, an area just outside/beyond Ocean View and Masiphumelele. Kommetjie, Afrikaans for “small basin”, is an isolated little fishing town situated below mountains, which supports part of the Cape Peninsula.
Why Africa? Why not Raleigh or some other area of the United States?
When Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission He said, “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” We understand that not everyone wants or needs to go to South Africa, however, we also see the great need for Jesus’ love there and are willing to go.
People in the United States have more opportunities to be exposed to the Gospel, and there are more resources here than in South Africa. South Africa needs people to be God’s hands and feet. And because God loves the people of South Africa and wants them to come to Him, we love them too. We feel that this is the place that God wants to use our family at this time.
Where will Jax and Grace go to school?
Jax and Grace will be attending Sun Valley Primary School. It is a partner school with Ubuntu and all of the Academy players also attend Sun Valley. It serves Grade R (Kindergarten) – Grade 7. The partner high school is Silvermine Academy.
How will we serve with Ubuntu?
Ubuntu has two programs, Football Forward and the Academy. Football Forward is the community level after school program, and the Ubuntu Football Academy offers an intensive football, education and leadership development environment to particularly talented young footballers.
Erik will be handling many of the internal details of Ubuntu like fundraising, budgeting, and organizational structure. He will also coach a boys’ team and work in the townships with Football Forward. Melissa will be handling the Football Forward program in the townships and charting its direction and growth. She will also be coaching a boys’ team initially, but the vision is to bring a girls’ team to Ubuntu and increase mentoring and discipling with the girls in the communities. As coaches and mentors, we will have daily interactions with the kids. All of the Ubuntu coaches share the responsibility of getting the players to and from school, practices, and games. We also make sure that their nutritional needs are met and that academically they are successful by maintaining a relationship with their teachers and helping with homework.
What difference will we make with Ubuntu?
The Academy is doing great work, but in order to continue its growth it needs additional coaches and volunteers to cope with the increasing number of players. We are essential in that we have a heart for Jesus and the capability to create long lasting and deep relationships with the players in the Academy. Through these relationships the Academy will be able to continue its coaching, mentoring and discipling. In addition, we both bring an organizational backbone to Ubuntu with our detail oriented styles.
What does the Academy do for the players outside of soccer?
Ubuntu treats each player in a holistic manner, not just as a soccer player. This is what sets the Ubuntu Academy apart from other academies in South Africa. The Academy invests in each player by providing educational opportunities, alternate housing, nutrition, mentoring and discipling.
1. Education: The Academy provides the opportunity for a top notch education at the Sun Valley Schools. These are a partner school of Ubuntu and have both middle school and high school grades. The goal is that each academy player will graduate from high school with an education that prepares them for college courses.
2. Housing: Some of the Academy players do not live in environments that are conducive to the athletic and academic rigors required of them. Many of them live in unsafe and unhealthy homes. Therefore, the Academy provides an opportunity to some of the players to live with host families outside of their home communities. One of our greatest wishes is to provide a safe, loving home for as many players as needed.
3. Nutrition: At practice, school, and home, the Academy players are supported through meals and nutritional supplements. Some of the Academy players’ families struggle to put nourishing food on the table every day. By supplementing the players’ diets, they are better equipped to perform in the classroom and on the field.
4. Mentoring and Discipling: It is the ultimate goal of the Academy that every player develop a lasting relationship with Christ. To this aim, the coaches consistently provide positive role models while actively mentoring and discipling the players as a team and individuals. This happens on an off the field through intentional, deep relationships with each player.
Will any of the players live with us?
We definitely have open hearts and will open our home for players that need a healthier living situation. We are praying for the provision of funds to allow us to take in some of the boys (and hopefully girls) and offer them a safe and warm family environment. Some of the kids currently live in shacks with very little food to eat. Ubuntu seeks hosts families for the kids in the worst conditions.
Where does Ubuntu find players for the Academy?
Ubuntu runs an afterschool soccer clinic in Ocean View and Masiphumelele twice a week called Football Forward and actively seeks soccer talent in other various townships. Football Forward’s purpose, in addition to providing devotionals and mentoring, is to search out and develop key soccer skills. If players show potential in Football Forward they will be asked to attend trials for Ubuntu. Ubuntu also searches various other townships for players that have the ability and desire to perform in the Academy.
Is the Academy an actual place?
No. “Academy” is just the term used for the group of boys (and soon to be girls) and the coaches. Ubuntu meets the educational, spiritual, and physical needs of the players that are part of the program wherever and whenever they meet. Ubuntu does not own any land or buildings for training purposes like a typical academy. Instead they use community resources, like the Ocean View Community Center Fields, and the local Fish Hoek Association Football Club for fields and team development.
Why don’t we get paying jobs in South Africa instead of fundraising?
We are not legally allowed to get paid jobs per the rules of our South African visas. Our work through Ubuntu is unpaid. All of the money that Ubuntu raises goes to support the educational, housing, nutritional, and training needs of the players.
How long do we plan to serve in South Africa?
We will be there for at least 2 years, but our hearts our open to God’s direction. We are His hands and feet and will serve wherever He leads.
Can people come and visit?
Yes! We love visitors, but be ready for us to put you to work! There are so many needs in the communities in which we will be serving, if you have a heart for Jesus and serving others, come on down! If you don’t love soccer (I mean really, who doesn’t?), we will still take you in and put you to work!