Hopes and Goals

Flickr/CC/Håkan Dahlström

How these two sport-based social enterprises are making a difference

By Zarreen Kamalie

Adrenaline rushing, heartbeat drumming and a growing sense of accomplishment and teamwork – sport can mean so much more to someone than this alone. For some people, sport is a gateway away from their day-to-day struggles in poverty or violence. It becomes a means to gain agency, support and hope.

This is what these two sport-based social enterprises aim to instill.

Alive and Kicking and Hoops 4 Hope are successful sport-based social enterprises that are making significant improvements in the community, and the lives of many.

Alive and Kicking is based in three countries across Sub-Saharan Africa; Zambia, Kenya and Ghana. Alive and Kicking (A&K) is a great example of how social enterprises can address an array of issues, while using a fun and exciting approach. A&K produces hand-stitched soccer balls in areas of high unemployment in Africa.

According to their website, the production of A&K soccer balls employs 140 or more people in Nairobi, Lusaka and Accra, most of whom have never been in formal employment before.

It gets even better. A&K’s soccer balls are made from resilient locally manufactured leather that has proven to be twice as resistant to damage and puncture than the usual synthetic kind. Once produced, the balls have each have individual screen-printed messages imprinted by hand. These messages are used as part of educational health tools, bearing messages such as “Malaria Kills” and “Play Safe. Prevent HIV/AIDS”.

Alive and Kicking has produced over 700,000 sports balls since 2004, and you can believe that each and every ball has brought happiness to someone special.

As for schools and community projects that are unable to afford the balls, over 120,000 have been donated to them.

A&K also operates a range of other innovative health and social inclusion projects. These include; football for the visually impaired, staff health workshops and entrepreneurship schemes.

For those who prefer basketball to soccer, there’s Hoops 4 Hope. Hoops 4 Hope (H4H) is a global not-for-profit organization, set up in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Hoops 4 Hope supports youth development throughout southern Africa, by providing more than 10,000 boys and girl every year with high quality organized Basketball and Soccer Programs, and Skills 4 Life for free. Skills 4 life is a 5 module curriculum that focuses on shaping students’ confidence, decision-making, and how they interact with each other and those around them.

By partnering with more than 150 schools, children’s shelters, and community groups in Zimbabwe and South Africa, the aim is to encourage more children to get off the streets and participate. Children at primary school are coached by role models from their own communities in their own language and are taught valuable life skills by trained MVP coaches through basketball.

Through initiatives such as Hoops 4 Hope, and Alive and Kicking, these children manage to find a support system through the joy of sport. Sport becomes a mechanism opportunity, and in turn, social and personal change. What you hopefully end up with, are a bunch of productive adults, engaged in healthy lifestyles, ready to face whatever life has to throw at them.

If you would like to get involved with either one of these enterprises, check out their websites, Alive and Kicking and Hoops 4 Hope. Donate, volunteer, spread the word… every little bit goes a long way.