With the summer holidays beginning for many schoolchildren, we take stock of how the Dreamfields Project, recipient of a 2016 IOC Sport and Active Society Commission award, has used its grant to kick-start mass participation DreamLeagues in South African schools over the last few months.
The not-for-profit Dreamfields Project provides township and rural schools across South Africa with the necessary tools and equipment to play football and netball, even in the most remote parts of the country. In 2016, it was among four recipients of the Sport and Active Society Commission grant, which sees each organisation receive a development fund worth USD 20,000 for running effective Sport for All programmes in their communities. Thanks to this recognition and financial support, Dreamfields Project was able to set-up DreamLeagues – weekly football and netball competitions in schools – and run training workshops for teachers and coaches to receive an introduction into how to coordinate this sporting event.
Since March, the Dreamfields project has enabled 2,559 South African schoolchildren across 12 schools to take part in the DreamLeagues. Alongside sporting competitions, the Dreamfields initiative, with the support of the IOC Sport and Active Society grant, has also introduced health education programmes to raise awareness of the benefits of leading an active lifestyle.
Teacher and DreamLeagues coordinator at Thembu Primary School Kholiswa Mgidi says: “It is very important the way the DreamLeagues give everyone a chance to play. Because many of them are scared that with the school team, they won’t be good enough and they won’t fit in. Having everyone play allows us to look for talent and challenge those who are already in the school team to do better.”
“This is a good way to make friends,” says 11-year-old Olwethu Khatywa, who plays girls football in the team she and her teammates call “Dreamgirls”. “I did try playing football last year, but I didn’t enjoy it so much. But these games in the DreamLeague are not too rough. I want to improve my shooting.”
For 12-year-old Asibabane Mpambane, playing football keeps him “flexible and fit”. “We have called our team Manchester City. I want to play in a big stadium one day,” says the aspiring footballer.
“At Thembu Primary we are very involved with sport,” explains Kholiswa Mgidi. “We want to introduce sport from grade 1 so that [the children] can learn the rules from a young age and participate. Some of the boys have gone for provincial trials in football and some girls have also attended netball trials.”
With a 95 per cent participation rate, the organisation is very encouraged to continue developing DreamLeagues in these schools and beyond. Dreamfields currently has around 28,000 South African children playing DreamLeagues sport.
Advocating Sport for All
The Sport and Active Society development grants are an initiative of the IOC’s Sport and Active Society Commission. They were created to further its mission to encourage people everywhere to participate in regular physical activity and to promote the health and social benefits of sport.
As it works to increase the accessibility of sport as a right for all, the IOC Sport and Active Society Commission engages with society to build on the sporting legacy of the Olympic Games and other major events. It is also responsible for activities related to the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020, specifically those linked to the promotion of active lifestyles in society, in particular among young people.