The team represents unity. The players come from different backgrounds, different cultures and different circumstances in South Africa. It’s almost like different worlds. Being part of the Rainbow Team, we get to know one another, and we can see how other people live and what their life situation is like. This is important as it helps us to understand each other better and to understand each other’s different view on things.
– Sihle Songanga, Captain of the Rainbow Team 2015-2018
The idea behind the Rainbow Team was born when I, Pernilla Landstedt, visited my home country, Sweden, in the summer of 2014, and my son, then aged 12, asked if we could travel with a South African team to the Gothia Cup. Back in Cape Town, I contacted the head coach of my son’s soccer club. He immediately embraced the idea of hand-picking a team of dedicated soccer players from different ethnic and economic backgrounds.
More than half of the players were sponsored, and the rest of the players came from families who could afford to pay the fee.
After a successful build-up with training, lectures, friendly games, charity work and teambuilding, the boys went to Sweden in July 2015. The Rainbow Team represented South Africa in the opening ceremony and did well on the pitch.
On our return to South Africa, we asked the parents for their views on the Rainbow Team. The answers were overwhelmingly positive. Never before had they felt such togetherness with fellow South Africans. Not only had the project given the boys a special memory to treasure for life, but it had also built bridges over the deep economic, social and cultural gaps that exist in our society.
The response from the players and the parents alike made us want to do it all over again.
In 2016 we formed a team with players from the previous year, as well as some new players that joined the project. After giving the boys training, lectures, playing friendly games, getting the boys involved in charity work, team building and participation in Gothia Cup 2015-2018 our aim was to continue working with these boys until they had finished High School. During their last week of High School in 2019, we organised a soccer event for the boys’ team as well for some girls’ teams to mark the end of The Rainbow Boys era and to introduce the start of something new for a potential girl’s team.
Cape Town is a microcosm where people of different ethnicities, social backgrounds and religions live side by side. Therefore, the Rainbow Team is so much more than just soccer. Each player is asked to sign a Code of Conduct stating that being a good person and taking school seriously is just as important as fair play on the football pitch.
Growing up in South Africa, a country of huge diversity and divides, is a challenge. Not least for the less privileged children. Therefore, we try to support our players in different ways that will give them the tools they need to become responsible, positive, tolerant and resourceful South Africans.
Sihle Songanga, Captain of the team 2015-2018, gives his thoughts about his experiences being part of The Rainbow Team:
7 years ago, I had never been outside South Africa. Now when I’ve travelled, I’ve become more curious to see how other people live and to interact with them. I’ve learnt a lot about how things work in other societies, and I’ve also learnt to adapt to different places and situations. When you know how to adapt, you become more
open as a person.
The Rainbow Team & four tours to Gothia Cup in Sweden has given me exposure and new experiences. I’ve made many friends from my own hometown who I wouldn’t otherwise socialize with as well as made friends from all over the world who I still keep in touch with.
I graduated from High School 2019 and I really wanted to start studying. Since I didn’t get accepted to my first choice at the University I applied to, I was looking for something else to do. I was, through my Rainbow network, offered to go to Sweden for a gap year. I spent almost a year working and studying on a bridging course online via UNISA. I came back to South Africa in December 2020 and was accepted to a programming course. I have a little more than a year left of studying and I have already been offered an internship and a possible employment after my studies are finished. I will forever be thankful to what my involvement in the Rainbow team has given me.
Our motto “A part of something bigger” indicates that we see every person as a unique individual who can contribute to a better soccer team and a better society. We make our most to help raise and empower the next generation of South Africans.
Our ambition is to do a similar project with a girl’s team. We organised some local girls’ clinics during 2019-2021. During the hard lockdown due to Covid, for 11 weeks, we engaged with soccer girls and their families in some of the underprivileged areas of Cape Town. Through a network of amazing people, soccer coaches & soccer fanatics from Authentic African Experiences & Propel Africa we supported through donations, from mainly Sweden, with food packages, books, clothes, cell phone data & training sessions via WhatsApp and more.
We are currently in the process of raising funds to take the first girls’ team from Cape Town through to the Gothia Cup in Sweden 2022.
If you are keen to get involved in the Rainbow Girls Project, you are welcome to contact:
Pernilla Landstedt+27 82 9707211 firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder of the Rainbow Team