Sunderland AFC provides coaching sessions to South African school as part of their Nelson Mandela Day celebrations.

SAFC’s head of international football development, Graham Robinson and Michael Havelock from the Foundation of Light have been visiting the country this past week delivering a number of community projects.

The Sunderland duo visited St. Mathews School in Soweto this week to deliver coaching sessions as part of the club’s partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Sunderland AFC who became the first football club to link up with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2013, support the former South African Presidents’ message of social equality by promoting his legacy through the global reach of the Barclays Premier League, as well as fundraising and community activities.

The session took place at St. Michaels’ artificial pitch which has been built in between the classrooms to act as the focal point at the school.

Graham said: “The focus of today was to improve the individual technique of the boys and to raise their self-esteem. The session was very rewarding and I have been pleasantly surprised by the individual talent on show.

“We are very proud of our partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and are honoured to play our part in supporting their initiative to eradicate racism through the power of sport.”

At the end of the session, Graham and Michael gifted the players with pin badges and key rings as a memento of the day. The school also received 20 footballs from the Nelson Mandela Foundation as well as an illustrated comic version of the ‘Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom’ for each participant.

As part of the club’s activities in South Africa, Sunderland AFC will also feature at Barclays Premier League Live at Zoo Lake Sports Club in Johannesburg on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 March.

Black Cats fans in South Africa will have the opportunity to participate in interactive challenges as well as footballing sessions delivered by Sunderland coaches at the new fan park initiative.

African fans are being welcomed into the family of Sunderland supporters in increasing numbers and with the club’s many partnerships on the continent, those supporters can see the impact SAFC is having on many people’s lives.

For more information about Sunderland AFC and its work in Africa please visit

  • We had a wonderful football and cultural experience in Gauteng. The tournament and activities were very well organized and we found everyone involved extremely helpful and accommodating. We have all returned home with fantastic memories of our time in South Africa, both on and off the pitch, and have made many new friends as a result of the trip. I hope that we are invited to participate in future tournaments.

    Everton Academy Head Coach
  • The experience both on and off the field for our players during the Future Champions tournament in Gauteng was life-enriching for all those who participated. We were privileged enough to win this edition but what will be bringing us back in future is the cross-cultural education our players receive from spending time with athletes from all over the world. They are human beings before they are football players and enriching them with other cultures is as rewarding as the experience they receive on the field.

    Club Tijuana Director of Football
  • After twenty years of experiencing tournaments around the globe, Future Champions is hands down the best organized, well run International Tournament we have ever participated in. Bringing teams from dozens of different countries provided our boys exposure to cultural diversity they only read about in textbooks. It’s amazing how sport can be the cultural link that provides the opportunity to interact with each other and discover that our global community is a bit smaller than they realized. We had a football and cultural experience that will be cherished for the rest of our lives.

    Director of USYSA Select
  • For us to compete in Future Champions is much more than playing a series of matches. It is an opportunity to compete and contrast our level against the best teams from around the world and the possibility of living in another culture and environment for an unforgettable week, learning about the history of the fight for human rights.

    Director of Aspire Academy
  • The addition of a girls’ competition this year is a natural expansion for what has become a hugely popular event. Over and above the football, the players are also exposed to life-skills courses and HIV/AIDS awareness that could end up saving their lives in the future. We have had an amazing partnership with the Gauteng Province over the last decade and we thank each and every stakeholder for making the Future Champions Gauteng campaign such a huge success

    Tournament director