Recent Stars-initiatives include the ‘Women taking the Lead’ project, which was initiated on request of the Royal Dutch Football Association. Our first course was held at Stellenbosch University during January 2011, and to date 12 courses have been hosted in various South African provinces. 223 female coaches have been trained.

These courses are open exclusively to women who believe that lives can be changed through football, and who wish to use their experiences as football players (whether as professionals or amateurs) to improve the lives of children and adults in their communities. Many ex-BanyanaBanyana players, as well as top provincial players have to date attended the course. Desiree Ellis, board member of our Foundation and legendary ex-captain of Banyana Banyana is responsible for managing the organisation of these courses.

The ‘New Beginnings’ course stemmed from a very special combination of approaches. Stars wants to continue breaking new ground in taking the leadership development training and spinoffs to individuals who most need it. In 2011 we started evaluating the position of the thousand of inmates who are behind bars in the South African prisons. Society’s tendency to “throw away the key” distances us as individuals of society from the humanity of those in prison. We label them “criminal” and “prisoner” and treat them as such.

A partnership was formed with the Department of Correctional Services (Prisons) and in February 2011 a group of 21 senior Stars-coaches from all over the country resided at the Drakenstein Youth Correctional Facility (previously the Victor Verster Prison). During the practical and life skills sessions the Stars-coaches worked intensively with the inmates, some of whom are serving life sentences. The structure created intense emotional interactions and food for thought. Their individual stories lift the veil from our eyes.

Despite their crimes, these individuals became vulnerable human beings who at some stage again have to face the outside world. In line with our vision, Stars embraced our own humanity and became mindful of the thoughts, feelings and actions towards those in our society who need our understanding and compassion. As a result we are proud to offer inmates (who are due to be released) the opportunity to join the Stars in their Eyes ‘New Beginnings’ programme upon their release.

And as we let our light shine

We unconsciously give other people

permission to do the same....