The Alster Cape Town Project, the hockey-focused charity founded by sports management consultant and former interim CEO of FIH, Delf Ness has teamed up with a new partner to support socially disadvantaged youngsters in South Africa.

It was back in 2009 when Ness founded the Alster Grootbos Hockey Project, which saw volunteers from Ness’ own hockey club Club an den Alster, in Germany, work with disadvantaged youngsters from the Gansbaai region of South Africa.

The Covid pandemic gave Ness the time to think about how the project could move forward without placing a huge financial burden on individuals or companies. A series of conversations and meetings led to a new relationship with a Hamburg-based non-profit organisation Viva con Agua.

Viva con Agua promotes safe access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation across different areas of the world. The organisation also operates a social business in Cape Town - Villa Viva Cape Town – a 31-room guest house, and funds from that business will flow into social projects, including the Alster Cape Town Project.

The co-founder of Villa Viva Cape Town, Moritz Wrubel, a German who has lived in South Africa since 2007, has developed the new concept with Delf Ness and Feico Mulder, President of the Western Province Hockey Union, 

Volunteers from the Alster Cape Town Hockey Project will have rooms in the in the guesthouse Villa Viva - alongside other volunteers working on different projects. 

Organized by Feico Mulder and his team, the groups of children the volunteers work with are trained in their own townships, with close links to the schools and clubs in the neighbourhood. This means they do not have to travel any distance to a hockey camp, saving time and money.

'Thanks to our network, we have a strong connection to these communities and can therefore guarantee the safety of our volunteers, which is a top priority,’ says Moritz Wrubel. Training takes place, for example, in Langa, the first Cape Town district built for the black population, or in Khayelitsha, one of the largest townships in South Africa, with over one million people.

'The advantage of this, that we work on site, is the increase of our reach to young people. So far, the project has been able to offer training to 250 children a year, now our volunteers can reach up to 100 children a week,’ says Moritz Wrubel.

The children taking part in the project will also be offered a programme about hygiene through hockey training. For example, there will be forms of training, by which the young field hockey talents practice washing their hands properly at the end of the drill. This is called ‘Hockey for Wash’. 

In February of this year, Johanna Rickheit (20), from Hamburg, was the first volunteer at the new location. 'She was our test person. Everything has gone so well that we can now really get started,’ says Delf Ness. 

The application is now open at Interested volunteers must be at least 18 years old, play good field hockey, and must have experience in children's training - and be willing to make a social commitment for at least three months.

‘I am sure that with Viva con Agua and the Western Province Hockey Union at our side, we can achieve something great,’ says Ness. ‘If all that happens, then the pandemic would have helped to make the world a little better.’

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