Impact of Stanford Men's Volleyball in South Africa
Stanford Men's Volleyball Alum Chris Ahlfeldt ('06) shares his letter to Stanford about how his experience inspired him to give back to underprivileged youth in South Africa.
Dear Dr. Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Drell and Director Muir,
I recently heard and was saddened by the University’s decision to cancel 11 sports programs including Stanford Men’s Volleyball. I was privileged to play volleyball at Stanford for 4 years (class of 2006) and personally experienced the positive impact of the sport in my life and for others, so am hopeful the University will reconsider this decision. I also want to share my story with you on how playing volleyball at Stanford impacted my life and is now impacting lives of under-privileged youth in South Africa as a result of Stanford Men's Volleyball.
While I was born and raised in California, I moved to South Africa with my wife in 2010 to get some more international work experience and pursue career goals to make a positive social impact in South Africa. We fell in love with the country and friendly people here, so now feel like we have 2 homes in the US and South Africa. I spent a lot of time volunteering informally with youth development when we first moved and in 2015, I cofounded a non-profit in South Africa called Yebo Volleyball that focuses on youth development for low-income and predominantly black South Africans through volleyball, mentoring, and education opportunities. We now train over a couple hundred kids per year in volleyball, and have helped 30 kids qualify for scholarships at a local sports high school where they've been able to move out of the township, continue playing volleyball, and further their education. Some have even gone on to getting partial scholarships for volleyball at the University level here and representing South Africa in international competitions. Yebo Volleyball also offers the youth we’ve coached and mentored valuable employment experience in a country with >50% youth unemployment rate pre-Covid.
I'm privileged to have benefited from a volleyball scholarship at Stanford and it's inspired me to help underprivileged youth in South Africa gain access to similar opportunities. I wouldn't have founded Yebo Volleyball if I hadn't played volleyball at Stanford which taught me life lessons on values and the importance of giving back more than you take. Volleyball's impact in my life and its impact on disadvantaged youth that have benefited from this program are difficult to quantify, but I hope Stanford University considers the broader impact men’s volleyball and other sports have beyond the Farm when making its decision.
I attached a few photos from some of our events and if interested, you can check-out Yebo Volleyball's website and Facebook page below:
Please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss further.