2017 nominee: Vuyo Kayi

Vuyo Kayi

Vuyo Kayi, 31, is a leader for social change in Khayelitsha, the largest township outside of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the founder and head coach of the women’s soccer team RV United and program coordinator for Grassroot Soccer, a South Africa based non-profit that uses soccer to empower and educate adolescents, with a focus on HIV and AIDS and sexual health.

He joined Grassroot Soccer in 2009, and as program coordinator, Vuyo develops and oversees programs that are implemented into school and after-school activities. His most recent project, SKILLZ Banyana, is a soccer development program for girls ages 9-14, and uses soccer to involve young girls in sport, as well as boost their self-esteem. In 2015, the program’s first year, 236 girls in Khayelitsha participated in SKILLZ Banyana.

In 2011, recognizing the lack of an organized team, Vuyo founded RV (Resilient Victorious) United in order to further women’s involvement in sport, despite some backlash and the ongoing threat of violence against the players. True to their name, RV has thrived and grown into a recognized and respected club. In 2015, under Vuyo’s guide, RV won the Coca-Cola Cup, the largest women’s tournament in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Learn more about the team with this video.

Through soccer, Vuyo has engaged a community in important conversations about challenging gender stereotypes and sexuality, while inspiring and empowering a generation of girls.

Raised by a single mother, Vuyo credits his mother and other women in his life for inspiring him to create social change.