For children in a rural area of South Africa, soccer is more than just a sport, and one New York City-based nonprofit is making sure their young talent and passion continues to grow.
VC+is a nonprofit collective of creative professionals who have come together to help existing charities. The group partnered with South African nonprofit The Dreamfields Project to help children have access to their own unique soccer attire. And more plans are in store to help children in that nation.
“The whole idea was we have all these resources and the creative know how; let's help out people who don’t,” VC+ co-founder Howard Grandison said. “[Let's help the] people that are doing good but don’t have the bandwidth and ideas and marketing to maybe get noticed.”
VC+'s first project was the collaboration with The Dreamfields Project, which has a mission of giving resources for playing soccer to towns and rural schools in South Africa
The two groups traveled to Cottondale, a rural town in Mpumalanga, South Africa where creative workshops were held at 13 different schools.
“It’s super rural, there is not a lot of opportunity out there for these kids,” Grandison said. “It’s not a lot of support for the community so it seemed like the perfect place.”
According to Grandison, for the children of the town soccer goes beyond just a sport. Once games are scheduled on specific days, the children actually will go to school and build confidence and learn about teamwork.
Through these workshops, the children were given the opportunity to create and design their own soccer uniforms for their individual leagues — which were organized by Dreamfields.
Giving the children the chance to design their own uniforms gave each the feeling of ownership and also gave them opportunities they normal do not have, Grandison said.
“We wanted to give them a sense of themselves as well as let them help the creative process for the uniforms that they would wear,” he said. “Just doing the first class is amazing how much talent and untapped creativity that these kids have harnessed inside of them that doesn’t get to be let out.”
Once the kids created the designs, VC+ brought them back to New York City for each to be brought to life and in September of 2014 the groups reunited in the rural town to deliver the soccer kits to each of the schools.
For many of the children, Grandison added, it was the first time they owned a team uniform or even wore soccer cleats — as the majority played barefoot. The children later held their first soccer tournament.
“When they put that uniform on it transforms a lot of these kids. It turns into its own armor against what’s happening outside of the soccer field,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”
Although VC+ plans to reach out to other charities, Grandison said that they plan to go back to South Africa and continue working with the community there.
The next goal will be to help girls who play netball in the town.
“We still feel like we need to make sure that there is a solid foothold in what we started already,” he said.
To continue supporting the children of Cottondale, Dreamfields offers the Dreamfields FC Collection ondreamfieldscollection.orgwhere you can purchase items with the children’s designs. All the money raised goes back to the kids.