CapeTownFootball journalist Kyle Lewis took a closer look into how SALVO Futsal have been changing lives in the Athlone community
We all know that sport is great. It makes us physically fitter, stronger and healthier. It’s fun, sociable, and almost without us knowing, it has the ability to make us more confident, resilient and happy.
However, what seems to be harder to accept is the potential that the power of sport has to create real and lasting social change. Despite evidence to the contrary, sport continues to be viewed by the majority as a nice-to-have rather than an effective mechanism to overcome some of the most pressing social challenges faced by individuals and communities all over the world.
The definition of antisocial behavior is broad, including criminal and non-criminal activities such as noise pollution, aggressive behavior, vandalism and drug dealing.
Antisocial behavior has taken hold of the upcoming generation and there aren’t many people willing to use their free time and money for a good cause for children they don’t know.
Last year I came across a movement called SALVO Futsal located in Hazendal, Athlone. Started by Brittany Malins and Keenan Muller with the hope of providing football as a release of aggression and an escape from gangsterism for a few hours, as majority of these 80+ kids come from crime ridden areas such as Kewtown and Bokmakiri.
CapeTownFootball got a chance to speak to them about why they started this movement last year and how the group recovered after the loss of one of their members to death.
Malins said, “Keenan was concerned about the boys who weren’t coming to youth anymore and he knew I was passionate about soccer and coaching, so he approached me to see if we could start something to get those boys back to us somehow.”
“When we lost Yusuf, a 14-year-old boy, it was a shock. The hardest thing was not recognizing who we had lost.
“Being told he had been with us a few times and us not being able to know who he was, was the hardest thing! From that day we promised that futsal would not be just football but about relationships too.
“Honestly the group is so used to it, it was just another day,” she added.
From that day I’ve seen with my own eyes how futsal is transforming young lives, breaking down barriers and bringing people together.
“The hardest obstacle would be discipline and sportsmanship, introducing rules when they used to being able to run the show,” said Malins.
She then shared that her goal is to get those boys signed and eventually have a half-way house where they are the holistically approach on the boys.
With a group of 80 Boys on the books ranging from four years old to 25-years-old, getting the opportunity to play soccer for a few hours and the odd life lesson. Keenan and Brittany’s only income stems from events and fundraisers but persevere through it all for the love of the kids and the game.
A simple action has been the children’s alternative to fighting in the street and shows them that it is possible to gain status and respect without brandishing a weapon.
It never ceases to amaze me that soccer, something so simple that so many of us take for granted, can have such a powerful impact on self- esteem and confidence, enabling young people to flourish and achieve their aspirations and dreams, and setting them on a good path in life.
In an uncharitable world it’s nice to know that there are still “Super Humans” who spend their time making the world a better place.
My faith in humanity is restored once again.