Great Commission United (GCU)

Location: Heideveld, Cape Town
Combat sport: Boxing
Focus areas: Education, sport, youth development
Established: 2001
Joined the FFP Alumni: November 2013
Contact: Mario Van Neikerk

Great Commission United (GCU) was set up in 2001 in the Heideveld area of Cape Town by Mario van Niekerk. As a reformed ex-gang member himself, Mario had witnessed many of the community’s problems first hand and felt compelled to do something to help keep the area’s youth off the streets and into positive activities.

GCU work within 4 local schools, proving sports activities and coach development for young people, as well as life skills, mentorships and extensive educational support that includes literacy, maths, homework club and tutoring. Sports offered include football, rope-skipping (led by national champions), basketball, and now boxing.

GCU believe that school-based sports and arts activities play an important role in maintaining learners’ interest in school and can help prevent them seeking alternative excitements such as drugs, alcohol and gangsterism, which then increases dropout and failure rate. GCU also try to provide a supportive family environment which many young people lack at home, and so end up looking for in gangs.

In addition to the school-based sports and education support, GCU also offer a feeding programme and, with support from volunteers and partners, have driven forward the renovation of the buildings at Woodlands Primary, their ‘hub’ school, creating new landscaped gardens, after-school rooms and toilets.