Under the slogan “Linking Lives Together”, Oasis- Reach For Your Dreams has been successful in linking the universal passion for football with the various life skills programmes it offers – as a means to combat social issues such as gangsterism, drug abuse, crime and HIV/ AIDS infection amongst the youth.
This NPO, which was founded by Clifford Martinus in 2000, teaches young South Africans about fair play, inclusion and respect, which are some of the sport principles that can be transferable in their lives off the pitch.
“We started by working directly with young people living on the street and then moved to young people that have dropped out of school in order to get them positive alternatives, and sport has been one of the key drivers. We have an official football club under SAFA, but none of our members pay registration fees. With us, you pay through being part of our life skills programme an committing to better your life. The idea is that you’re a footballer, but you’re a learner first. Parents need to understand that we are a Sport for Development organisation first, not a Sport Development organisation,” says Martinus.
With the newly installed “Field in a Box” turf in Schaapkraal, Philippi, the artificial grass pitch provides a safe place for young people to enjoy football while developing life skills such as respect, responsibility and positive decision making. This, according to Martinus, is the first of its kind in South Africa and was made possible through their partnership with StreetFootballWorld, FedEx and UEFA Foundation for Children.
Oasis Football Club consists of seven teams, from juniors to seniors. The organisation also has a netball club as a means to inspire young girls through sport. In ensuring the continued use of football as a medium for social integration, the coaches at Oasis are not only qualified SAFA coaches in their respective divisions, but many of them have been through the organisation’s activity programme as either victims or perpetrators, and therefore have first-hand experience in some of the social ills addressed.
“I don’t want Oasis to become scientific or theoretical and all talk, we need to be practical. So who better to tell you how to cope with the issue of drugs than someone who’s been an addict before and has overcome the addiction?” says Martinus.
In keeping with the concept of practicality and awareness, the NPO has a Local Integrated Football Education (L.I.F.E) programme in which it targets five schools in its vicinity, a month or two before World AIDS Day (1 December), to teach life skills through football, purely on HIV awareness. Grade 4 to 7 learners are educated by participating in football drills such as dribbling the ball through cones based on true/false questions and answers on the topic of HIV/AIDS. At the end of the programme, finalists from each school compete at the Oasis sports field in a tournament called “Our L.I.F.E Finals” – now in its 5th successive year.
Although there have been many setbacks in the 18 years that Oasis has been operational, the foundation boasts a number of successes. Currently, one of its members is in the USA through a football scholarship where he is doing what he loves whilst studying towards obtaining a qualification in University.
“The truth of the matter is that footballers, when they turn older, are pro players with no qualification. We want to make sure that young people achieve more. We also have a number of young people that came through our various programmes who have furthered their studies in SA, I recently met a lady who is now a teacher. Another young man plays for Cape Town City in the MDC, and others play in the NFD,” Martinus adds. “We never know what lives we impact, we just trust the messages we transfer find good ground to germinate,” he continues.
Future plans for the organisation include launching a league for female footballers, as it has already started grooming its team of girls.
Visit www.oasisplace.co.za for more details, or find them of Facebook: Oasis-Reach for your dreams.