In our 8 year experience in working with juvenile offenders, we have seen the desperate need for quality investment in the lives of these young men. To rehabilitate prisoners, you need to work with not only the prisoner, but also their families. The program also needs to work on all areas of the prisoner's life. With this in mind we are creating relationships and partnerships with individuals and organizations to help rehabilitate offenders. The partnerships enable us to offer more opportunities to the offender and give them a greater chance of successfully rehabilitating and reintegrating into society.
The program prefers offenders who are willing to change and do something positive in their life. This is key as prisoners with a negative mindset usually have no real desire to change.
The model developed in Drakenstein Prison (the prison Mandela was released from) has been recognised nationally by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) as a project that demonstrates success in rehabilitating inmates. DCS requested a partnership with Ambassadors In Sport and other academies be developed in prisons around South Africa. As mentioned previously, 88% of prisoners graduating from our program do not reoffend and are living back in their communities. We have seen a greater return on investment from working intentionally with smaller numbers. Through this investment these young men are impacting their families and communities in a positive way. Throughout the year Ambassadors In Sport host sporting events and the Academy players released from prison participate and give testimony to young children about the dangers of crime and the importance of staying in school.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
2011 - The model developed in Drakenstein needs to be sustainable and fully equipped to enable other prisons to use it as a model for future sports development. Our aim is to continue to build a volunteer and support base that provides each offender with the opportunity to change his life. Part of this sustainability is to look at social enterprise programs that will help financially support the academy in the future. Within each Academy we will require staff (full time and volunteer) focusing on each stream of the academy (football, faith and future).
2012 - We will offer training to other prisons on how to set up soccer academies and impact offenders through sport based on the Drakenstein model. The model will also help impact juvenile centres for troubled youth and schools in poor communities that want to instil sporting excellence. We would need to get SETA accreditation from within SA which will help pay staff to give training in the program. We would also like to see local young men employed by AIS, running soccer academies in poor communities and giving back to society. We have already had this in Khayelitsha, Cape Town and through this and other events have seen how much some of these young men have to offer. Again we would need this to be supported through government and corporate funding for it to be achievable.
2013 - To have the program fully funded from within South Africa though social enterprise and corporate social investment partnerships. We would also like the young men who are successfully rehabilitated to contribute to the program financially once employed. We would also like the project to employ indigenous staff (even ex-academy players) to be the coaches of all the academies nationwide.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
The key success to this program is the high investment because of the problems juvenile offenders face in prison and once released. The danger would be growing the project too quickly just to add numbers to the program. The quality and impact of the program would decrease as prisoners are highly manipulative and we would attract the wrong kind of offenders to the program. We believe that the investment made in the few will go on to impact many in the future.
Correctional Services could also harm the project by not giving the Academy the freedom to develop further. A lack of strong partnerships will also prevent us being successful.