By: Ntombekhaya Zibi
Inner City Ambassador (ICA) was found by former cop John Maluleke (55) who’s aim was to remove the children off the streets.
When he was working as a cop he said he used to see a lot of kids rooming around the unsafe streets of the Johannesburg City with nothing to keep them busy, he then took it upon himself to ask them for reasons as to why they left home which lead him to opening the football club.
“As a police officer working in the Inner city at the time, I believe I was driven by passion and the love of working with the youth, especially disadvantaged children,” said Mr Maluleke, who has served at Alexandra and Johannesburg central police before deciding to retire in 2014 and give his full attention to the ICA.
The club has a membership of more than 160 children within the inner city from ages eight to 18. It has four volunteer coaches and consists of five teams which include the U10, U13, U15, U17 for boys and U18 for girls.
The South African Police Service is working together with the club to help fight crime. They are also teaching the children about substance abuse and violence prevention, but mostly, the club pushes the players to reach their potential as they already have about nine players who are playing for premier soccer league clubs such as Wits University and Highlands Park Football Club.
The ICA is sponsored by the African Housing Company (AFCHO), Staycity hotel and Fifa World Cup Legacy Trust. They hold street soccer once in a while to assist the City of Johannesburg with identifying homeless children and facilitate some with their families.
In recognition of the Nelson Mandela International Day, the club in partnership with Tata Consultancy Services introduced Mandela Day Cup that has been taking place for the past seven years. From the first of July until the 22nd of the same month this year, they will be hosting their 8th annual tournament at the following cities, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Emfuleni and Ekrhuleni.
The finals will be held at the University of Johannesburg, 16 Bunting Road Campus Auckland Park, Johannesburg, where the winners will get a trophy, gold medals and winner certificates while runner ups will receive silver medals and runner up certificates.