Norwegian club to foster Ubuntu Football players
Cape Town - In celebrating its 10th anniversary, Ubuntu Football, a local non-profit football academy, has announced a special collaboration with FK Bodø/Glimt – the current champions of Norway’s premier football – that will see the club's best players continue their football development careers and become professional footballers outside South Africa.
The club started in 2001 with only 16 young footballers, and a dream to build a football academy with a difference and a programme that would help talented footballers become outstanding men and leaders, while pursuing their football dreams.
Managing director Casey Prince said the club had since grown in leaps and bounds. He said the academy has now evolved to a league academy, a Grade 6 to Grade 12 school, and a residence for 30 players, with “a huge focus and strategy around character and leadership development”.
Prince said communities often lacked strong role models and stories of hope that their children can relate to.
“Ultimately our vision is to see the young men we work with becoming successful and strong positive leaders in their families, communities and society. After our first 10 years, we’re proud of the players who have started successful professional careers, and of those who have been called up to national teams at various age groups, but we’re equally proud of those who have become the first in their family to go to university, or have started their professional careers in other fields,” said Prince.
Executive director Michael Jenkins said the academy has had great success in developing both footballers and people.
“Away from the football field, Ubuntu’s progress has been equally impressive. There are currently 14 Ubuntu graduates on full football and academic scholarships in the United States, while many graduates who have stayed in South Africa are finding success in other fields.
“Unemployment among young people in South Africa is enormous, but the figures show that Ubuntu is defying the odds. As many as 58% of all people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the country are unemployed, but among Ubuntu graduates, unemployment is as low as 3%,” he said.
Jenkins said the collaboration would have a number of significant benefits to both clubs, in football and in terms of shared vision to be more than just a football club, and to offer positive contributions to society off the field.
Bodø/Glimt general manager Frode Thomassen said the collaboration fitted in well with their work with “Action Now” and would be able to contribute to a further internationalisation of this concept.
“We are very happy that we have started the collaboration with Ubuntu. We see great potential, not only related to sports, but to the club’s social values and commitment. The club's commitment to the environment and Action Now in particular have been well noticed in South Africa,” he said.