Editor’s Note: Sonwabise (Sony) Dick is a Grassroot Soccer Caring Coach in Khayelitsha, South Africa who has worked with GRS since 2011. Sony grew up in Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s largest townships. She first joined the GRS team as part of the Coach Development program and has been a role model for girls through the SKILLZ Street program. She is also a member of RV United, a team formed by GRS that is the only all-female soccer club in Khayelitsha. Sony is very passionate about her work as a Grassroot Soccer Coach. Here she tells her GRS story in her own words (edited for length):

Coach Sony I started playing football in primary school, at about age 9 or 10. My siblings are all male, and it was the sport they used to always play. I wanted to join them, because I only have few female cousins and I wanted to be part of the group and enjoy in the fun I saw my brothers having.

Football is important for me, and I think for others, because you can interact with people and you get to share positive things with friends. As a football player, your mind is always focused on football and you don’t have time to do bad things. As for girls, it brings about positive peer pressure. Girls from Khayelitsha – if they don’t participate in sports, they find something else like smoking or drinking alcohol – so football is beneficial for girls in that way of encouraging positive behaviour. When you play football, you don’t have time for boyfriends. You play every day to prepare for match days, and when you come home you feel tired and you don’t have time for relationships.

I joined RV United in 2011 and started training with the RV girls when the team was first formed. I was a SKILLZ Street Coach and I was the first Grassroot Soccer Coach playing for RV United. I saw the need of helping the participants, and as time went on more Grassroot Soccer Coaches became part of RV. I also played a role in getting some RV players to join Grassroot Soccer, like Tsizwe, Tiny, Happiness, George and others – they are all GRS Coaches now.…Now, as Grassroot Soccer Coaches, the players are more interested and comfortable speaking with young girls and teaching them how to play soccer.

Being a part of RV has also really encouraged me to talk more and become more active, because I grew up being quiet. I am more comfortable now, I can share my problems with my teammates, and I feel more self-confident. I have gained leadership skills, how to work with people my age, and sort everyone out in every way that they need.

Coach Sony with juniors

Coach Sony working with girls at the Football for Hope Centre in Khayelitsha.

The SAFA D License training that we underwent from 24-28 March 2015 was an intense, fun and motivating experience. [Editor’s note: see this link for more on the GRS partnership with SAFA.] The course ended with a festival in which we designed and setup stations for drills and life-skills activities. The combination of life-skills and football is valuable to make life-skills active and interesting for participants. I would like to now continue with my SAFA C License because there are few females Coaches and Referees in SAFA. In the near future, I am also hoping to become an intern with Grassroot Soccer and I think I will learn more working at the HQ level….I am studying Marketing and Communications here in the Western Cape.

Coach Sony and Trevor Noah

Coach Sony talks to South African comedian Trevor Noah during a visit for Comic Relief's annual Red Nose Day in the UK.

I am also looking forward to SKILLZ Banyana [editor’s note: a GRS program introducing girls to soccer] starting because young girls in school are always taught how to play netball, and maybe volleyball. But now that we are going to go into the schools and teach them how to play football, we will have more players that will join us as RV juniors and U14, so we can have more girls play for RV United, motivating them to play football. It’s going to be exciting.

We had another RV United game on Easter Saturday, this was our first game in the SASOL league…It was a tough game, but we won 3-2! …My hopes for the future of RV United, well, we are going to win the SASOL league! I am also hoping that some of our players will be picked for the national team.