Lion Stars FC in Joe Slovo Park, Cape Town, has helped a handful of youngsters kick life-destroying habits.
Owner Khayalethu Dyani (49) said his club saved a youngster who was living on the streets, as well as three others who were heavily involved in drugs.
“Three players got involved with drugs and gangsters while they were playing for us but we managed to help them correct their path. In the team, we also have a player who was living on the streets and who was addicted to drugs. After he joined our team, he cleaned up his act and is now an active church member in our community,” said Dyani.
Started in 2014 by Dyani, Lion Stars FC was created specifically to help keep young people away from drugs and gangsterism.
“The parents of many children in my neighbourhood had given up on them because of drugs,” he said.
Myolisi Tapile (17), who plays for Lion Stars’ senior team, said he used to smoke marijuana with his peers. Tapile said he quit the team for some months because drugs had taken control of him.
“I started smoking marijuana because it seemed cool. At some point, I got so heavily involved in drugs that I quit playing soccer. Fortunately, I later realised that soccer was a tool to success,” Tapile said.
He said when he returned to the soccer field, he had to work twice as hard to earn his place in the team as he was in poor health. Tapile said in his Joe Slovo community, drugs such as tik and mandrax are easily accessible and a large number of his peers are using them.
Dyani believes that in order to curb social ills, community members must play an active role in promoting positive activities, such as sport.
“We must find out what young people are interested in and get them active in those areas. It helps no one to insist that they do things that don’t interest them at all,” he said.
The club plays in the Milnerton Local Division and has Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 teams, as well as a senior team.