A career in sport has led the founder of the OG Molefe Foundation to put his heart into the next generation, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
Sport has the power to change the world. This is not a throwaway line; it’s a statement of intent. Made famous by Nelson Mandela, it’s a sentiment shared by many around the world but few harness the energy behind it.
One of the few is OG Molefe, who after experiencing the effects of sport in his own life as a television sports editor and programme anchor, is determined to make a difference, one swing at a time.
A dumping site in Soweto is hardly the place you would have imagined to be the birthplace of dreams of a brighter future. But that’s exactly where this story is playing out as the old wasteland in Meadowlands gets transformed – albeit bit by bit – into the setting of a place of hope.
Molefe, who launched his foundation a little over two years ago to help give back to his community, has partnered with the Rhulani Mabasa Children’s Foundation, which aims to balance sport and education.
‘The initiative is a programme that forms a direct response to the growing number of young people who are falling through the cracks at school,’ says Molefe.
‘They had taken an old dumping site and turned it into a makeshift sports complex. In a bid to assist them, and hopefully unearth a future champion, we hosted clinics where we donated golf clubs and apparel.’
Having support from brands like TaylorMade South Africa and Adidas has helped kickstart the cause but no one involved is underestimating the size of the task at hand.
And golf alone is by no means the one and only egg in the basket of rejuvenation.
The foundation also focuses on helping and educating children after school with tailored assistance with homework and studying, as well as sport coaching to help them grow and develop their skills and a feeding scheme.
‘It’s in our plans to provide food for the children after school and to give them a meal every day,’ adds Molefe.
In the early stages, the task was hamstrung in part by defaulting donors and a string of broken promises.
This led to a more steadfast approach to developing the space. With that came the first OG Molefe Foundation Invitational at Ebotse Links in September 2018 followed by the 2019 edition at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East Championship Course. A venue fitting for the kind of goals the foundation is aiming to achieve one day.
The day was supported by stars from across the sporting codes, including Brian Baloyi, Stanton Fredericks, Jimmy Tau, Morgan Gould and Reneilwe Letsholonyane, all of whom have represented Bafana Bafana, and TV and media stars such as Lalla Hirayama and Brinnette Seopela.
Golf pros Toto Thimba, Sipho Bujela and Musiwalo Nethunzwi lent their swings to the cause, as did cricketer Mangaliso Mosehle. Comedian David Kau kept his fourball in hysterics when they weren’t receiving complimentary beverages, a massage shortly after the turn or taking their swing at either of the day’s hole-in-one prizes; a diamond to the value of R100 000 or a R10 000 Adidas hamper. Sadly, the field let these prizes go begging but they did dig deep into their pockets with over R100 000 raised. That figure was then doubled as Standard Bank surprised the audience by matching the tally.
The result? Construction work can begin on the study centre.
‘We’re very excited to start laying the foundation for the centre, which in turn means it’s time to secure the partnerships with companies that will join us in the programme to help set up the robotics and coding courses which give the children a massive headstart.’
Golf is full of cliches but there’s nothing cliched about the work being done to enrich the lives of children living in Soweto.
‘The world of sport is littered with stories of athletes who have suffered setbacks, been beaten and knocked out, only to make a great comeback. And our foundation has experienced some of these already but we’re up, we’ve dusted ourselves off and will continue changing lives, one swing at a time.’
It’s a golfing Cinderella story to back if ever there was one.