Members of the Crystal Palace FC Foundation have touched down in South Africa to contribute to an innovative employment project taking place in the country.
Michael Harrington, the foundation’s sports development officer, has been out in Bloemfontein to help run the scheme, which was inspired by Eagles and South Africa international midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi.
His charity, the Kagisho Dikgacoi Foundation, is working in partnership with the Crystal Palace FC Foundation and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation to help improve the life prospects of young people growing up in South Africa.
The Isagoyarana Football Coaching Development Programme aims to help 30 underprivileged 18 to 24-year-old South Africans develop the necessary tools to enable them to become qualified coaches and youth workers in their own right.
Michael has been passing on his coaching skills as part of a wider accredited qualification set up through the Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s existing links in South Africa, while also helping to introduce young people to the principles of youth work, interpersonal and business development skills.
Dikgacoi said: “Poverty is the main factor that affects young people and their chances of reaching their potential not only in South Africa but the whole of Africa.
“We are a talented country sports-wise, but because we have a lack of infrastructure and poverty, these can stand in someone’s way but with the KDF joining together with Rio and Crystal Palace FC Foundation we can help these kids and revive their dreams of whatever they wish to do and that will be great.”
Michael said: “It’s been fantastic and I will take back with me the enthusiasm and spirit of young people who are part of the change in what is such a beautiful country.
“Special thanks to Paul Laemmle from ETA, who we were introduced to through foundation trustee, Gary Stannett, for organising such an inspirational programme.”