The people that shaped our story: Mario van Niekerk

In 2011 I was working as a volunteer in the YDF project in the Northern part of South Africa. During that time, I was staying in Cape Town for a few days and on my last day before leaving the city I aimed to visit a Football Community Project which was named Great Commission United (GCU) and was supported by the Hostel was staying in.

Spending half a day with the kids in the Cape Flats, a township with all its problems, I finally met Mario van Niekerk, the impressive founder of GCU. His tough life story as an ex-gangster and how we managed to turn his life around when he became a father was truly inspiring. I remember he said: „If children are not learning to dream, I have to dream for them!“ It is sad on one side that children do not have the chance to dream, beautiful on the other side that someone has the courage to step up and tries to make a change in the environment and on our planet. Driving back to the Cape Town bubble where all the Cape Flats problems are not visible – in tears – inspired by Marios personality, courage and power, the idea of founding Football for Worldwide Unity, with the aim to support GCU´s activities and empower the coaches, was born.

Thank you, Mario, for being the person you are!