A Cape Town duo are determined to bring change to the lives of young people from the Western Cape’s impoverished, gang-ridden areas.
Friedl Gertse, who was born and raised in Kuils River, about 32km from Cape Town, attended De Kuilen Primary and Sarepta Secondary schools and now manages the digital marketing of a private distance-learning college, but he always knew he was meant to do something more with his life.
“A soccer club is something I’ve always wanted to start as I love soccer. I’m a very competitive person and always dreamt of one day competing in top leagues in Cape Town, but to also have some of the boys scouted to play for the top clubs in SA.
“I used to play for a soccer club in Kuils River and I am a huge Man United supporter, so when I watch Premier League games I always look at how I can make a difference the same way these big clubs are doing,” said Gertse.
In 2010, Gertse met Magadien Wentzel, who shared his vision.
In 2020 the two reconnected and decided to found a soccer club, a dream both of them shared, especially since Wentzel used to coach soccer and has a coaching certification.
Within a few weeks their dream turned into a reality.
“We then formed a club called Young Tornado Warriors. The name for the club was inspired by a 1999 tornado that hit Manenberg, where a community lost everything”.
“We came up with this name to remind the boys that no matter what life throws at you or if you lose everything, you will always come out a warrior and prosper.
“Ultimately, our objective is to bridge the gap between soccer and education,” said Gertse.
Wentzel, who spent 25 years in jail, was determined to make a difference, so upon his release on July 19, 2003, he pledged to give back to his community.
“After my house arrest was completed, I decided to start a youth development group called Tornado Stallions Youth Development,” said Wentzel.
“In prison I studied psychology for a while until I decided to become a cardiovascular fitness instructor. I became the coach of the first team of the West Albion soccer club in our community and achieved huge success, until the club closed.”
Wentzel said he was absolutely gutted and dreamt about starting a soccer club to empower the youth and children of his community.
“I dreamt about a community soccer club where the club belongs to the people of our community. Now that dream has become a reality,” said Wentzel.
Gertse said they want to give each player an equal opportunity to make it in life so that they, too, can one day contribute to their communities.
They want to develop programmes such as peace-building, crime prevention and education and to help them with scholarships, among other initiatives to keep them on the right path.
“I want to be able to change people’s mindset of Manenberg. We only hear the bad, and I want to change this. I believe we can reduce the recruitment into gangsterism if we as a community work together.
“I would even go as far as saying we can change the gangsters’ hearts, as many of these gangsters want to play soccer, had dreams of playing in top leagues, but because of their household circumstances they chose a different route.
“These boys don’t want to join gangs or partake in crime. All they want is for people to empower them and guide them to their dreams.”
Gertse said they currently have 80 players, including under-11, under-13 and under-15, as well as a second team and a first team, with the age groups being from 8 to 25 years.
Gertse said they have also decided to start a women’s team. The vision for the women’s team is to empower women to become strong individuals and to break the cycle of teenage pregnancy and other social ills they face.
“Our mission is to educate women and equip them to start their own businesses by alleviating poverty within their communities,” said Gertse.
Gertse and his team are running a feeding scheme for about 30 to 40 children in Wellington, around 71km outside Cape Town. They are also helping small-business owners with business registration and compliance administration.
“We are in the process of assisting a household set up a tuck shop to generate additional income so that they can provide food to continue to run the feeding scheme, as well as in the process of assisting and facilitating the start-up for a former prisoner to start his own barbershop.
“We want to give disadvantaged children an equal opportunity to excel and reach their dreams. Through this I do believe we begin changing mindsets within the communities.”
Gertse says they would also like to see young people pass matric and receive further study assistance so that they can succeed in a career or start their own business.
Gertse’s NPO, Greater Purpose Outreach, still requires many things to help them reach their goals, such as website development, partnerships with other organisations, sponsorships, donations and volunteers.
If you are able to assist Greater Purpose Outreach in any way, contact Friedl Gertse on firstname.lastname@example.org.