Letsema has been working with both Diski Nine9 over the past year. Diski Nine9 is a non-profit organisation focused on sports as a tool for driving socio-economic impact in underserved communities in South Africa. It was founded by Young Africa Leadership Initiative alumni, Raymond Ledwaba, in 2015.
A key part of Diski Nine9’s success is its deep desire to support and uplift young people through mentorship and providing empowerment opportunities to develop and change their circumstances. A great story which illustrates the great work being done by Diski Nine9 is that of Fezile Hlophe, who joined the initiative in 2015 as a referee.
Fezile is a throat cancer survivor who became South Africa’s youngest professional soccer referee at age 16 when he officiated a professional soccer match between Kaizer Chiefs and the University of Pretoria in 2016.
Due to his cancer treatment, Fezile was in and out of school for two years, with his education suffering as a result. To help Fezile make up for lost time, Diski Nine9 worked with Absa to make a short film, titled “Madala”, about Fezile’s life to raise funds so he could complete his education and pass Grade 11 and 12. With the help of Absa and Diski Nine9, Fezile subsequently completed high school. The short film has been seen by over one million people on social media, including by John Carlin, the author of “Invictus”, the best-selling book that proved the inspiration for the Hollywood movie.
Carlin asked Diski Nine9 to include Fezile’s story in an episode of the Amazon Prime six-part documentary, “This is Football”, which premiered globally on 2 August 2019. Through working on “This is Football”, Diski Nine9 and Carlin identified Fezile’s talent in front of the camera and helped him to enlist at Boston Media Campus to study film. Letsema helped the Diski Nine9 team raise the necessary funds for Fezile’s tuition and wrap-around support so he can embark on his studies. A huge thank you is owed to the generosity of the Harry Crossley Foundation and the Mary Oppenheimer & Daughters Foundation, who provided the bulk of the funding.
Since joining Diski Nine9, Fezile has also highlighted his own personal desire to start his own Foundation to help children and youth in his community to football and improve their education. To help Fezile get started, Diski Nine9 helped Fezile raise US $5,000 (approximately R74,000) to help kickstart his Foundation.
As Letsema, we believe Fezile will excel in his studies and become an influential figure in sports and media in the near future. We wish him all the best with his Foundation and will continue to support him in his endeavours.
We are proud to continue our support of Diski Nine9 and hope to be a catalytic force in helping Raymond and the team to continue being a force for good in leveraging sports to transform the lives of children and youth in underserved communities.