Hope Peter, 17 years old, is a Grassroot Soccer participant from Soweto, South Africa. Since grade 6, she has participated in various GRS programs. During that time she says she has transformed from being shy to being awarded “Most vocal and confident participant.” In April 2018, Hope was selected to be part of a youth panel at Grassroot Soccer’s inaugural Adolescent Health Partnership Forum, where she talked about how to keep adolescents at the center of these programs. We caught up with Hope after the panel to talk more about her background, her experiences with GRS, and her goals for the future.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background, and what your outlook was like before getting involved with Grassroot Soccer?
Firstly I’m being raised by a single parent who is currently unemployed and there’s two of us, but I’m the only one in school. So each time I [first] went to Grassroot Soccer I always have the thought of saying ‘I don’t even know when my next meal is, I don’t even know where it will come from.’
How did Grassroot Soccer change you?
Through Grassroot Soccer I was able to boost my self-confidence; it boosted me in so many ways. I was able to change the negatives into positives; I was able to do good for myself. At first I actually thought that nothing good can ever come out from me because…I don’t even know when my next meal will come… But given the platform and the chance to speak to my peers for advice during our Grassroot Soccer sessions, I was able to see that it’s not the end of the world. I can still change it, I can still make a better self out of myself. I can still reach my goals — it’s still possible. Only if I just believe in what I am doing, I will definitely get there.
Can you give me an example of how you are taking this new outlook into your life?
In 2015 — I was doing Grade 9 — we had the session about blessers, sugar daddies, and all that. [Editor’s note: the terms “blessers” and “sugar daddies” refer to older men who support young women financially in exchange for sexual relationships.] And then a participant raised the opinion of saying usually kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, they are the ones that resort to blessers and all that, and then I corrected that, because I felt offended in a way. Then I said ‘No, only kids who lack self-confidence can resort to blessers, but if you believe in yourself then I am so sure that you’re going to get there without having to resort to blessers and sugar daddies and all that for finances.’
What about your peers — have you seen examples of where you can influence them?
There is a current situation at school – we have this matric attire that costs 1,000 rand, and not everyone can afford it. Today, the jackets were being delivered, and you would see the ones who have them bragging like ‘Ohhh this is nice’, and I felt for the kids who don’t have those jackets who are just like me. And I was like ‘Guys don’t worry it’s fine; if you can’t have the jacket it’s fine. But just ensure that the next generation receives those jackets, receives the privileges that you never had. Just strive for that and you’ll be fine. A perfect mindset is a positive mindset and if you have positivity in you, then anything is possible, you can definitely conquer the world.’
What are some of your goals in life?
I want to become a chartered accountant. I would also like to become a chief finance officer of a major company in South Africa. But then my real goal after that is to start my own auditing firm so that I can lift up my community and employ people from the community — everyone from the cleaners to the accountants.