Notoriously the most dangerous prison in South Africa, Pollsmoor casts a dark shadow over Westlake, the Cape Town community beyond its walls.

School delinquency, drugs, gangs and teenage pregnancies ensnare local youth, creating and perpetuating a cycle of darkness and lack of hope.

Wanting to share the hope offered through the good news of Jesus Christ, SIM South Africa worker Freeman Ndlovu (then deputy treasurer, now financial services manager) and two of his Westlake neighbours—Vusumzi Gxumisa and Sinethemba Mandita—put the word out that they were starting a free football program for boys and young men—the only requirement for participation was showing up.

To everyone’s astonishment, 28 young men came to play. There was just one problem—Freeman did not own a football! Thinking quickly, he got them jogging laps around the sports field, then managed to buy two balls for the following night. 

Young Legends was born.

The ministry continues to see wonderful growth. The city of Cape Town provided Young Legends with the use of land and accepted them into the South Peninsula Football Association League. Young Legends has also spread to Johannesburg and Durban.

Why such success? Because Young Legends is about much more than just playing sports and doing activities.

During the COVID pandemic, they prepared and distributed food to many needy families, shared the Word of God, and offered prayer, encouragement, and words of wisdom to people.

Discipleship, in partnership with local churches, is also very important. Each Young Legends leader is assigned two members to mentor. As a result, there continues to be a growing spiritual awareness and sense of purpose in the children and young people.

Their testimonies speak volumes. One young man says, “Being around the Young Legends family and living with one of the members, I’m taught about the Word of God, and I started attending church.” Another says, “Young Legends is a blessing from God, and I am proud and happy to be part of it.”

Beautifully summing up the ministry, Xolisa Mdamoyi, a Young Legends football player, puts it like this: “The vision is not about playing soccer and winning tournaments and leagues so that we can make money, but it was something totally different. Basically, what the Young Legends family wants to do is to change lives.”

Thanks to the initiative of Freeman and his friends, in partnership with churches and organisations like SIM, that vision is becoming a bigger and brighter reality.

In the photo above, Young Legends co-founder Freeman Ndlovu discusses plans for their Westlake site in 2021.


This article is adapted from SIM International’s website,, and was reprinted in SIMnow issue 157, available for download at Later in the issue, our Books feature explores the founding and growth of another SIM youth sports ministry, Sports Friends. Please join us in praying that Young Legends will likewise continue to grow and bless its young people and their communities throughout South Africa.

Text by Lee Forland, SIM Southern Africa Communications Coordinator

Photo by Brian Heffron, SIM South Africa Communications Manager