South Africa’s education system is one of the worst in the world, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) placing it at 75 out of 76 countries.Learners from disadvantaged households are most effected, with studies showing that “the low quality of education offered to the poor eventually becomes a poverty trap*”. As quality education has been identified as a key contributor to the eradication of impoverishment and the promotion of society’s economic well-being, this should be of huge concern for all. The Young Bafana Soccer Academy aims to address this as well as to equip children between the ages of five and 19 from some of the Western Cape’s poorest areas with the skills they need to realise their potential. The organisation provides these youngsters with the opportunity to hone their soccer skills whilst benefiting from educational, life skills and youth development programmes.Founder Bernd Steinhage says: “Our programmes are designed to help individuals develop holistically, build confidence and keep active. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that each participant passes Matric with an exemption so that they can potentially further their studies at tertiary educational institutes.”The Academy’s soccer offering caters for young people wanting to pursue a professional career in soccer as well as those who just want to have fun. They receive training five times a week, a meal at each practice session, soccer kits, along with transportation to and from their homes. The educational component of the Academy involves Mathematics and English tuition through Somerset West Private School and Maths Man. Players with literacy and numeracy deficits are identified through a baseline assessment and are provided with programmes to address these issues. In terms of the life-skills programme, the organisation works closely with a psychometric professional to provide youngsters aged 15 to 16 with career guidance and aptitude tests. In addition, once a month those aged between 14 and 17 are treated to financial education and life coaching sessions where they are taught how to save, budget and follow their dreams.The Academy currently has over 100 beneficiaries whose progress is monitored on a daily basis. Measurable results are recorded and the children’s school reports are testament to their scholastic improvement.