Zitha spreads love through sport and Bible
80 children benefit from coaching, food, clothes and religious studies
An East London man is doing his bit to reduce the number of young people roaming the streets of Nompumelelo and Beacon Bay through sport training and weekly religious studies.
Sipho Zitha started the Romans Family and Romans Football Club to sway young people in the community towards a positive lifestyle.
The part-time DJ founded his initiative when he saw young boys playing soccer in front of the Abbotsford Christian Centre while he was working for a bottling company in 2010.
The NPO currently has a team of five members who assist with admin work and daily operations. They rely on private donations and dig into their own pockets for sport equipment. Today, Romans Family provides coaching and mentorship to 80 boys and girls from the area. The youngsters, aged between seven and 18, receive a meal and a Bible study lesson every Wednesday.
“I formed the organisation after I saw groups of aimless, hopeless youths from Nompumelelo township. I had a desire to give them hope and a purpose in life, which includes a deep connection to God, each other and their community,” he said.
Zitha’s main objective is to mentor the youth to fulfil “their purpose in life”, through sports training and providing the youngsters with the basic necessities to live a meaningful life.
“The secondary objective is to provide homes, education, clothing, food and other needs.
“I started coaching groups of boys in soccer and was thereby able to mentor and teach them Godly character. With help from my friends, I also started feeding these young people and meeting some of their material needs, such as providing shoes and clothing,” he said.
Thulani Mutingi, 14, from Nompumelelo, said the majority of teenage boys in the community were members of the club. “I started playing for Romans last year and it has made me dream of following soccer as a career after I am done with school.
“Coach [Zitha] always tells us to come to practice so we can stay fit and healthy,” he said.
The 32-year-old Zitha said his NPO also provides netball coaching for young girls in the community.
“Last year we also had children from Cambridge and Mdantsane coming to join us because we had transport.
“The project has led to a positive impact and success stories from the community.
“Some of the young men have been selected for soccer development with the Augusto Palacios Apprentice Academy, the current coach of Orlando Pirates FC [development team]” Zitha said.
The group hopes to establish further branches across Buffalo City Metro. “We want to expand this work into other areas. My heart burns with fear when I see children begging on the street corners of the town.
“Some of these young ones don’t have a place to stay.
“My dream is to build a community centre with a place that can serve as a safe house where widows and children may live peacefully in a place they can call home, with a school, clinic, sports field and other facilities needed for this purpose.”
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