Jelani’s Story; Soccer, education and social impact in South Africa

Jelani recounts his experience to South Africa with his soccer team, Central Brooklyn Soccer Club.

Jelani Cine

Foreword from Jelani’s mom, Ola Ellis:

“I am a soccer parent who has been fortunate enough to have my son travel internationally for tournaments.  I love that he has been able to see different countries and experience different cultures through soccer.  The difference with his trip to South Africa with the third half was that through soccer, he was truly able to immerse himself in the culture and learn about the challenges and triumphs of kids his age unlike any other trip before.

Watching his eyes be opened to the daily struggles faced by young people in the townships of Johannesburg and knowing that this knowledge will shape the person he will become was immensely rewarding for me.  I also learned so much and have been inspired beyond our donation to do more for those who have less.  

I want to raise a true global citizen and that means being able to teach my son about the world around him in new, different and impactful ways.  This trip to South Africa with the third half has helped me to do just that. “


Jelani’s Travel Blog:

Have you ever done something that really has inspired you?  I have and that thing is soccer.  I started soccer when I was very young,about 7 years old.  The first time I kicked a ball I loved it.  My coach said  I had great potential and at first I didn’t believe him but after all the things my friends and family have done to help me, I now believe it.

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I play for a club called Central Brooklyn Soccer Club from Brooklyn, New York. We may be a soccer club, but we do a lot of other things too. For example,. we teamed up with a group called the third half and went to South Africa to raise money and donate equipment to kids in need.. Central Brooklyn doesn’t just play soccer and travel around for soccer, we also help other teams and travel around to explore other countries.

When Central Brooklyn teamed with the third half, we helped a lot of people.  These trips are very important because they help us see the things other people deal with and have to cope with in their lives.  This specific trip really opened my eyes to how bad some people have it.  When I was there, I saw a bunch of kids with no shoes on walking on some rubble while I was in a fancy bus with shoes.   Seeing this made me feel sorry for everyone and that’s why I love that we get the chance to help those people in need.

the third half has taught me so much. learned that not everyone is as fortunate as I am.  Just like those kids in Johannesburg.  The trip to South Africa was the best experience I’ve ever had.  We  donated over $6,000 dollars to a group called Grassroot Soccer.  This group is  an HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention program.  They teach children about the disease through soccer.

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I visited a lot of places while I was in Johannesburg.  I went to the Orlando Towers in Soweto,  the market in Soweto,  and got to go to Apartheid museum to learn about the history of South Africa.  We also saw the actual house of Nelson Mandela and learned about what he went through throughout his whole life and  how he grew up.  

In total all I’m saying is to remember there is always something you can do to help.  Even if it’s a very small thing you can always help.  That’s why my team goes to these strange or different places. What I learned is that if you can help you should and that you should be grateful  for the things you have because there is always someone who is less fortunate than you. You should never be blinded by the things you have.

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