The Building One Field Project
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Woza has set a long-term goal of developing adequate soccer resources for youth players in northern KwaZulu-Natal Province, starting with partnering with Sheldon Hughes and Mtuba Football Academy to build one soccer field on donated land outside of the town of Mtubatuba.
Read on about our goal of building one soccer field in Mtubatuba.
One of the reasons Woza is so excited to partner with Mtuba Football Academy is the passion and dedication of its director, Sheldon Hughes.
Our founder Chris encountered Sheldon in 2010 soon after arriving in Mtubatuba to work for a local development organization focused on fighting HIV/AIDS. After his rugby teammates told Chris about "that crazy old Malaysian electrician" who was teaching a couple hundred Zulu boys to play soccer on Saturday mornings, he promptly signed up as a volunteer coach with Sheldon's academy. Within a few months Chris could see how deeply committed Sheldon was to local youth soccer players. He decided he would do whatever he could to assist him with his dream of building an academy that not only taught soccer but also actively encouraged life skills, education and health initiatives for its players and their families.
Sheldon currently runs the Mtuba Football Academy out of a local private school's rugby and soccer complex, but the space is far from adequate for the 200 boys he and his volunteer staff work with every week. The arrangement with the school is also uncertain, and Sheldon lives in fear of losing access to his training fields if the wrong person at the majority-white school decides the Zulu soccer kids are too much of a nuisance.
Fortunately, Sheldon has been donated a piece of land which he seeks to develop into a multi-field soccer and education complex. The plot is currently overgrown and wild, but it has the potential to become a hub for youth soccer in the entire Zululand region.
Woza Soccer Adventures is partnering with Sheldon to take the first steps towards realizing the dream of a stable and independent Mtuba Football Academy with junior and senior training and match fields, changing rooms, classrooms, lights and other resources that would do justice to the organization and reputation that Sheldon has built over the last 10 years.
Woza has made an organizational commitment to funding the development of the first field on Sheldon's plot of land, and a portion of every Woza student's trip fees goes straight into the planning and construction of this soccer field. The main field should be finished by Summer 2015, and we will then move forward with supporting further projects (practice fields, buildings, etc.). A portion of the service work that Woza students on our South Africa trips will undertake is assessment, cleanup and initial preparations of the land which will one day become Sheldon's dream academy.