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THE MAMELODI SUNDOWNS FOUNDATION JOINS THE FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER The packing line at FoodForwardSAPhotos: The Mamelodi Sundowns Media TeamFoodForwardSA“Those who are blessed, need to bless others” − these were the humble and heartfelt words spoken by coach Steve Komphela at the end of a successful World Food Day outing with the Mamelodi Sundowns first team.The charismatic Bafana Ba Style coach, known for his bellowing voice on the touchline and his insightful comments to the media; found himself in a different environment on October 16th 2021. The coach from Kroonstad, who usually spends his day-off planning for the next technical team meeting with the head coaches; was instead packing food parcels with his colleagues from Chloorkop in the morning and delivering meals to the kids at the Thandanani drop-in centre in the afternoon. The day ended in smiles as the DSTV Premier League Champions left the drop-in centre in Mamelodi East with their hearts content and their spirits high. They were used to being hailed for their excellence on the pitch, but on that special day, the group achieved a different kind of victory- they celebrated the young lives that they had touched and the new bonds they had created.
They were heroes for the day, but how did it all begin? Like all superhero stories, the call to act was too loud to ignore. According to an article written by Nic Spaull and Marc Tomlinson, “as many as ten million adults and nearly three million children experienced hunger in the past week in South Africa in 2021, and 2.5 million adults and 600,000 children were experiencing perpetual hunger, [which is] hunger every day or almost every day”. This fact − along with numerous statistics around hunger and its negative effects on the development of our youth − became the key motivation for our club’s decision to give back to our communities. What started as a humble donation to FoodForwardSA − South Africa’s largest and most successful food redistribution charity − resulted in Bafana Ba Style earning an invitation to help the Non-Profit Organisation pack and deliver food parcels For World Food Day 2021. World Food Day provides an occasion to highlight the plight of 870 million undernourished people in the world.
The objective of the day is to heighten public awareness on issues such as absence and scarcity of food in the country and to strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The Mamelodi Sundowns World food Day outing began inside FoodForwardSA’s Johannesburg warehouse. The Chairman, Club Ambassador Tiyani “Shuga” Mabunda, Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2nd Princess Ronnel Homu, Reyaad Pieterse, Kennedy Mweene, Thapelo Morena, Pavol Šafranko, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Andile Jali, Pule Maraisane, Promise Mkhuma, Coach Steve Komphela, Coach Wendell Robinson and Coach Rulani Mokwena, along with members of the technical team and Mamelodi Sundowns admin, entered the food redistribution warehouse one by one while observing Covid protocols as they were greeted by FoodForwardSA’s Johannesburg branch manager Mr Pierre Breswick.
Morena and Šafranko looked up in awe at the rows of food that seemed to stack all the way up to the ceiling, while Jali and Mabunda were eyeing the forklift that was parked by a pile of crates. The redistribution warehouse was divided into different stations to allow for the packing process to move efficiently; surprisingly, it resembled the way that the technical team would set up a practice field for training sessions at Chloorkop. There was the starting station, the unpacking station, the barcoding station, and the collection station. Pavol Šafranko labelling the food items The starting station was at the centre of the warehouse where a pile of unorganised boxes of food parcels lay waiting to be transported to the next station. The unorganized boxes had various meals that had not been arranged or barcoded yet, and so it was the job of our Chairman and his team of lifters to pick up those boxes and transport them to Coach Steve’s team − who were waiting at the unpacking station.
The Komphela Crew were located at the bottom of a long steel table that was situated close to the warehouse entrance. The players unpacked each box that arrived at the bottom of the table and passed the contents up the table to Coach Rulani’s barcoding team, who barcoded and repacked the food parcels. Coach Rulani’s meticulous attention to detail made him the ideal leader of the team that were tasked with applying barcodes and ensuring that the parcels were boxed correctly. Tiyani "Shuga" Mabunda packing the food items Once repacked, Coach Wendell, along with the other members of his team, would then transport the parcels to the collection zone. The process worked like clockwork as Mamelodi Sundowns players and staff passed parcels to one another with the same fluidity and ease that we once showed when we completed that famous chain of forty-four passes against Kaizer Chiefs.
Amidst the packing and lifting, Amapiano tracks played in the background while laughter was shared, and the spirit of Ubuntu was celebrated.
The final stage of the packing exercise took place at the collection zone, where all the barcoded and repackaged parcels were stacked and waited to be transported to the delivery van. This was where Mabunda and Jali were found. Although they were unable to drive the forklift (because one needs a license to operate such machinery), the Mamelodi Sundowns midfield hardmen (of the past and the present) did not miss the opportunity to take a few selfies by the forklift and gave the driver some encouraging words of support! Once the final crate of parcels were packed into the truck, the Chairman said a few words of thanks and Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2nd Princess Ronnel Homu handed our hosts from FoodForwardSA a gift of our appreciation.
The first leg of the Mamelodi Sundowns World Food Day outing was completed. Now that the packing was done, it was time to deliver. Coach Rulani delivering food parcelsThe FoodForwardSA delivery truck arrived at the back of an entourage of Mamelodi Sundowns cars at Thandanani Drop-In Centre in Mamelodi East. Players emerged from their vehicles and were welcomed at the entrance of the centre by the legendary duo of Alex “Goldfinger” Shakoane and Daniel “Mambush” Mudau. The pair explained that this would not be an ordinary food parcel drop off because, in true Mamelodi Sundowns fashion, Cedric Moela and the supporter coordinators of Mamelodi had turned the food handover into a day of celebration for the children at the home. Masandawana entered the children’s playground and were met with loud cheers and applause. Soon, children were singing Ka Bo Yellow stadium songs as Bafana Ba Style offloaded the parcels from the truck and passed each item from person to person until it reached a pile in front of the happy spectators. Players delivering the food items Once the last parcel was placed down, then it was Goldfinger’s turn to say a few words on behalf of the club to the children of the community − emphasising the importance of staying away from drugs and believing in their dreams. Coach Steve then took the microphone and relayed a similar powerful message of positivity; and although Coach Rulani was expected to say a few words too, the Mamelodi Sundowns coach had been spotted by a group of young Sandawana supporters who refused to let him out of their reach! Not even on loan! Coach Steve Komphela addressing the kids from Thandanani However, this was not a day for speeches or protocols, it was about celebrating the community − Cedric gestured to the DJ to resume the music and soon everyone in the audience was cheering in appreciation as the children danced with the other local performers. Our very own Morena even decided to step on to the dancefloor and show the children why we are called Bafana Ba Style!
His fancy footwork left the onlookers inspired as the event closed with rapturous applause.
As the day ended, one thing was abundantly clear − it is through giving, that we receive. The young children at the drop-in centre reminded the members of Mamelodi Sundowns FC about the importance of reconnecting with our communities and investing in the lives of our youth. Food parcels delivered to Thandanani Drop-in Centre in Mamelodi East As a successful football club, we strive to uplift and inspire by reaching for the Sky in all that we do − but as one hand goes up and points for the Sky, let us open our other hand and ensure that we take others up with us. Be a Hero in the fight against hunger with Mamelodi Sundowns and FoodForwardSA! If you would like to join us as a guest on our next parcel packing adventure, sms KBY to 41872. All SMS’s are charged at R2 and proceeds go to FoodForwardSA. Keep an eye on our social media pages for more info!