The Lakhenathi United Football Club, founded January 2019 by co-founders Unati Snam and Mandelake Klaas, has grown to 35-45 players between the ages of seven and 17. The successful expansion and growth of the club has brought the attention of local sponsors, including KFC Eastern Cape, who handed over a number of playing kits to the club on Wednesday 20 February.
“This project was born out of seeing these kids being idle after school and not doing much,” said Snam. “So we thought of a plan where we can get these kids together in one place, especially after school. Most of the time they have nothing [to do], so that at least they can be in a safe environment.”
The Lakhenathi Project started in 2016 as a literacy and learning project, aimed at promoting education and skills development in the Xolani and Tantyi areas. The project wanted to make books popular again by organising book clubs and other programmes to promote literacy in the community.
The soccer club started on 14 January, and since then has registered with the Makana Local Football League (LFA), which will start over the first weekend of March. A post on the local Facebook group brought the club to the attention of local resident, Bloss Murray, who sponsored supplies, equipment, and most importantly balls and bibs for the team; and spread the word around town of the initiative. Soon, word of mouth reached the KFC offices in Port Elizabeth, where Aimee de la Harpe, former Makhanda (Grahamstown) resident, works as the Marketing Manager.
“We heard that they didn’t have any playing kit and the name hadn’t been finalised, so we helped them with the logo design and gave them three sets of playing kit so that they can start playing matches and feeling like a team.”, said De la Harpe.
Earlier in the day, De la Harpe and her colleague, Darryl van der Berg, Assistant Marketing Manager at AKM Foods, dropped off an “Add Hope” cheque of R100 000 to the Eluxolweni Child and Youth Care Centre, as a beneficiary of the R2 “Add Hope” initiative at KFC. This is the third year in a row that Eluxolweni has received such a donation from KFC.
“This whole thing was not even about football in the first place,” said Snam. “All we wanted to do was to get these boys together and impart life skills. We are not really looking to make football stars out of these boys, we want to make decent, responsible and disciplined citizens.”
The Lakhenathi United FC is also looking to widen their reach to include young women that want to become involved in sport, including soccer, netball and even tennis in the future. At present, their practices are open to anyone looking to get involved. Lakhenathi practice at the Oval every Monday through to Thursday, from 15h30 to 17h00.