Watch the Drakenstein Prison Hope Academy Video.

Welcome to the Drakenstein Prison Hope Academy


Drakenstein Hope Academy was the first official Hope Academy launched in South Africa in January 2008. The Academy works with juvenile offenders in Drakenstein prison, Paarl, which is an hour’s drive from Cape Town, South Africa.

The prison holds historic significance as Nelson Mandela was released from Drakenstein in 1990. During the apartheid struggle, football was used to bring hope and sanity to political prisoners on Robben Island where Mandela was a prisoner. Mandela loved to watch the games from his cell and enjoyed watching his fellow prisoners play the beautiful game, until this privilege was ended by prison officials. Years later Drakenstein Hope Academy carries on this legacy, using football to bring hope to juvenile offenders around the Western Cape.

Drakenstein Hope Academy is special and unique on many fronts. When launched it became the first prison football academy in South African history. South African prisons are rife with gangs and learning centres for crime. The Academy attracts and recruits the top juvenile football players from prisons around the Western Cape. Each player is required to abide by the Academy code of conduct which includes getting an education and not getting involved with gangs. These players are transferred and housed in one communal cell through the Academy season. In 2009, the Academy participated in an outside league and won both the league and cup double without losing a game.


Ambassadors Football has 10 years’ experience in prison football development and the Hope Academy model was developed through seeing the talent and need within correctional centres. Many of these young men are caught up in prison gangs, come from disadvantaged backgrounds, are uneducated and have little hope in life. The Academy has restored hope in so many of these young men. We are proud to say that many of our graduates have gone on to live crime free lives, return to school or college, find employment, play on soccer teams and become responsible citizens in society.


“The Hope Academy program has had a big impact on our juvenile section and we are very proud of its success. We believe the model created in Drakenstein will go on to impact and assist other correctional facilities around the country.

Through the involvement of the Hope Academy, Drakenstein has also opened the Syakula Sports Academy that runs Rugby, Cricket and Basketball. These sporting codes are based on the same guidelines of the Hope Academy and have dramatically reduced gangsterism and abuse in our centre.

It is great to have our staff involved in the program, trained as coaches and using sports as a tool to bring change to our young men.

This program is one of a kind and we look forward to working with Hope Academy for the foreseeable future.”

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Matheyse
Area Commissioner
Drakenstein Management Area