Sunday, April 21, 2019

Fire Fighters Football Club (FFFC) was established in 1998 in Khayelitsha, the largest black township in Cape Town with an estimated population of 800,000 people. The football club is located in an area consumed by poverty with high levels of unemployment and very little infrastructure dedicated to sports and recreation. Because of this void, the youth in Khayelitsha are an extremely at-risk population, vulnerable to the dangers of HIV and other STIs, substance abuse, and gangsterism. 

The club was created as a way to begin to address these issues within the community. Even as a teenager, Mandla Solontsi (aka "Power"), the current head of coaching, recognized that for many youth in Khayelitsha, roads only seemed to lead to destruction and despair. Power knew other roads existed but they were difficult to find and even more difficult to navigate. The idea behind Fire Fighters FC was never to create just a football club; Power's intention was to build a road that was clearly marked and well lit, that would lead to bigger and better things for those who took it. 

Years later, it is safe to say that Power's hard work and dedication has paid off. What started off as a small team of about 20 players has ballooned into a club that now boasts 5 youth teams, namely under 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19. The club has done remarkably well overcoming adversity to become one of the leading clubs in the community. Consistently excelling in tournaments, FFFC has made a name for itself in the Western Cape as a serious competitor with committed athletes. Even more, these athletes are committed to becoming leaders off the field as well. 

FFFC is about character building and raising young men who will be positive role models for the next generation and will strive to make a positive impact in their communities. One such man, a product of the club, is Abongile Qasana. Abongile, who is now a coach, began as a player and has been involved with the club for 15 years. While FFFC is very much an extension of who he is, Abongile also juggles life as a student and most recently life as an accountant at a local hospital. He is a testament of what FFFC is and can be for the youth of Khayelitsha. 

Abongile is a highly respected and integral part of the team with a connection to the community that cannot be taught; his enthusiasm is tangible and his dedication unmatched. He is eager to learn and grow so that he might then pass it on; he is the very embodiment of everything FFFC stands for and represents and most importantly, there are more like him. 
The goal of FFFC is to use sport as a tool to promote social change within Khayelitsha by continuing to build leaders like Abongile and Power.

© 2019