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Delano Ayer

Delano Ayer, 29, went from a life of drug abuse to being a mentor and role model for young people in Eldorado Park and other communities. When Ayer was little, he dreamed of being a professional soccer player. When he was chosen to play for Orlando Pirates soccer club at the age of 12, his alcoholic father refused to allow him to play. Ayer was beaten and abused and eventually turned to drugs. He became violent and destructive and contemplated suicide.

In 2013, Samantha Toweel-Moore, founder of the Growing Champions (GC) leadership and football development programme, crossed his path and convinced him to go to a rehabilitation centre. After just five months, Ayer left rehab and decided to turn his life around. He started coaching and mentoring the GC soccer teams, where he knew many of the boys were using drugs.

He eventually left his full-time job to look after five teenagers in a residence of safety in Windsor West, Eldorado Park. He became GC’s head of football and serves the community and helps others achieve the dreams he was denied.

Learn more about Growing Champions here.

Nominated in category: Resilience

Photo: Supplied