2010 was the year when Bernd Steinhage established the Young Bafana Soccer Academy. The idea came to the native South African – son of a German father and a Namibian mother – after he decided at the age of 18, to take the step into a long-term stay abroad.
In the following seven years, he lived in Germany, Spain and Nicaragua. On his journey, he was a professional footballer and active as a social worker. He also completed a business administration degree in Berlin. After seven years, he returned to his homeland South Africa and decided to follow his passion, developing others by means of education and soccer.
"There were just eight children at the school where everything started. Today we have over 120 - and the cooperation with the schools still exist."
"The thumb rule was that for every 10 paying children, Young Bafana would give a scholarship to a non paying child. Having realised the positive impact these scholarships had on the children, the programme expanded rapidly."
"In the first year children were forced to practice barefoot. For one simple reason: they had to earn their shoes! Mutual respect and appreciation play a major role at Young Bafana. For many of the children being taught the correct values is not a given due to the daily confrontation with drugs and violence."
Due to the poor learning conditions, lack of English proficiency and various other daily challenges the children are faced with, Young Bafana inaugurated a compulsory educational programme in January 2014.
Every player is obliged to attend the additional education programme which consists of English, mathematics, computer literacy and life-orientation. Career guidance is offered to the older beneficiaries who are on the verge of completing high school.
Due to the outstanding support of the Nomzamo clinic in Cape Town our players receive general check ups through qualified doctors including eyes, ears, breathing, skin, heart, malnutrition and worms. A medical report is kept on a file of each player.
"Due to the obvious deterioration of the South African education system, an additional education system was initiated in 2014. If a teacher has 50 pupils – all from the local township – crammed into a 25 sqm classroom, very little progress can be expected. Education is the key and the English language is the most important element."
The academy received broad support from interns from all over the world, including USA, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
To date in access of 40 interns have completed an internship with YB, in respect of soccer coaching, teaching, marketing, physical training and special projects.
"The sporting success story emphasizes the quality of the internal structures as well as the passion shown by coaches and players, both on and off the field.
However Young Bafana's motto of 'changing lives' goes further than just soccer – it focusses on the individual development of every player and we strive to achieve this through soccer, education and social development. We want to offer them a better life without drugs and violence."