“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
Nelson Mandela (8 May 1995)
Today, in a dry and dusty part of South Africa, on a blue-sky winter’s day, beneath the smoky haze caused by a quarter of Johannesburg’s population trying to keep warm by fireside, you will find a once illegal dumping ground that has been turned into a make-shift driving range.
It’s here in SOWETO, that children who live in extreme poverty are being introduced to the game of golf, by a passionate golfer and sport commentator: OG Molefe. (Oh-jee-molef-ee)!
The OG Molefe Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, based in South Africa, and they believe strongly in their mission statement: the power of golf can act as a vehicle for change. They provide mentoring programmes to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Soweto area, using the power of sport as the main driving force for change.
Soweto (acronym for South Western Township) is an urban settlement or 'Township' southwest of Johannesburg, with a population of around 3 million people. It grew out of shantytowns and slums that arose under the apartheid system in the 1930’s, when black labourers arrived from rural areas. Despite the overwhelming poverty, drug addiction, shanty style living and general ugliness of the time, at the area’s core is the historic struggle for freedom waged on its streets. Here, riots against apartheid were violently supressed on several historic occasions, until the first multiracial elections were held in 1994.
Today’s generation still bear the burden of their parent’s history, and the current political climate in South Africa, as well as the pandemic. Often, they have fallen through the cracks of a failing education system and are very likely to have had turbulent transitions into adulthood. This is where the OG Molefe Foundation is key to changing their path and offering them a brighter future, through the discipline and skill required in learning the game of golf.
The Foundation identifies at-risk middle and high school pupils and tries to offer a positive support system to help them avoid the many pitfalls in life. By promoting friendship, discipline, and strong interpersonal skills, it gives them a real sense of hope for the future. Golf is placed at the very heart of all the charities work, with the below outlining just some of the incredible aspects of the programme:
- Providing children with access to coaching, via golfing clinics, with local professionals from the Sunshine Tour.
- Partnering with an organisation to turn a dumping site into a makeshift driving range for children to be introduced to the sport.
- Providing golf clubs, balls and apparel for children.
- Building a study centre, which came in very handy when the Coronavirus pandemic forced local schools to shut down.
The organisation's founder, OG Molefe, expressed his delight at the partnership with Royal Albartross: “We are pleased and honoured to have Royal Albartross on board to assist the Foundation. We have certainly come a long way from the days when we started with only a vision and a dumping ground which was then cleaned up and turned into a driving range where children in Soweto could be introduced to golf."
"The journey has not been an easy one, but with help from the likes of Royal Albartross we are encouraged to keep working hard and exposing the sport to the young people who would otherwise never have access to golf.”
The ancient African proverb of Ubuntu, which means 'I am because you are', clearly depicts how we depend on connecting with other people who care about the well-being and future of the youth in South Africa.
“As individuals at the OG Molefe Foundation, we are equipped with particular strengths and talents, and by using these qualities with help from entities like Royal Albartross, we strongly believe that we can better our communities and subsequently reap the societal benefits we often dream about. We hope to one day produce active citizens who will contribute positively to society, and if we can discover a few gems along the way who will then go on to become professional golfers, then we would have fulfilled our purpose.”
This partnership feels especially apt due to the strong South African roots that run throughout Royal Albartross. Our Founder and Head Designer Alex Bartholomew and her husband Ross Hocknell were both raised in golf-rich South Africa.
“We are extremely proud to announce the OG Molefe Foundation as our charity partner. Ross and I feel strongly that we need to do whatever we can to create awareness and assist OG in this great cause. If we can help more children to change their future path through the game of golf, we will feel we have been successful. It gives greater authenticity to the products I design, because they are more relevant in the world if they are a catalyst to change. It’s about spreading the African philosophy of compassion, humanity and kindness through luxury golf products that people are proud to own and use.”
“We are currently working on a number of exciting ventures together to make a real and enduring impact on both the Foundation and the young lives it seeks to improve. To this end we hope to launch the first OG Molefe product release very soon.”
We are excited to see how our partnership will evolve and flourish and how golf can bring both purpose and joy to these young people.