Ajax has had a majority stake in Ajax Cape Town in South Africa since 1999. In the Message from Cape Town column, we focus on African Ajax every Monday. In this edition, we see that Ajax Cape Town is involved with more than just football.
Recently, the Ajax Foundation travelled to South Africa to finalize Mission Cape Town. In Cape Town, youth academy director Corné Groenendijk, among others, was accompanied when saw two young talents. “Eighty to ninety per cent of the kids in the academy have a difficult situation at home. Ajax can play an important role with that, by contributing to a better society where possible.”
That shows that Ajax Cape Town isn’t only about football. “One of the problems these kids face is that they have a lot of responsibility. They have to do everything themselves, find their way on their own, because there’s nobody there to help them. Sometimes they don’t have anything to eat, which is detrimental to their performance. In addition to that, they’re checked on their performance in school, because we want them to be successful both in school and on the field”, says Groenendijk. “That’s a lot of responsibility for young people.”
One of the players is fourteen year old Lunathi Mdatyulwe, who plays with the under fifteen team. He lives with his mother and sister in a small house in Township Imizamoyethu, close to Houtbaai. “One day, I’d like to live somewhere else to make my dreams come true. You can live much better somewhere else”, Lulu said to Ajax TV, in a beautiful report about the lives of the Ajax youth in Cape Town.
Three Ajax Cape Town community coaches keep a close eye on the kids. The coaches go around the neighbourhoods to teach the kids about life, in addition to football. “There are no bad kids in Cape Town”, says coach Riyaad Kahn, out of experience. “But there are bored kids who don’t have many options.” And they get onto a bad path. Kahn works with them on football, giving them more choices. ‘Football can change the world’, says Kahn.