CRYSTAL Palace star Kagisho Dikgacoi is on a mission to give something back to the community and sport that has given him so much.

CRYSTAL Palace star Kagisho Dikgacoi is on a mission to give something back to the community and sport that has given him so much.

Growing up in the town of Brandfort, South Africa, Dikgacoi says he was “saved” from the a life of crime and drugs by a passionate love of football, and is now determined to make a difference back home.

The mentoring he received from his primary school football coach and support from his football-mad grandfather, took him “away from the streets” to become one of the most prominent South African footballers of his generation.

The Palace midfielder known affectionately as KG, launched his Kagisho Dikgacoi Foundation in October last year.

“I was supporting many different charities out of my own pocket [after turning professional],” he said. “I used to support schools and colleges around my old community.

Dikgacoi said it was his ambassador role for the Crystal Palace Foundation that opened his eyes to the possibility of starting his own foundation.

He added: “I knew I could reach and support more people back in South Africa if I started my own foundation.”

However, he said it was “tough” juggling the demands of top-level professional sport with the additional commitment needed to take on something of this magnitude.

“First of all I had to get someone in could who help me get sponsorship, to organised events, that sort of thing,” he said.

“Overall it was a long process and a tough one, but once we got it all sorted we could start organising our events and really getting our support out there.”

While Dikgacoi understands the power of being a good role model, he is guarded on whether there is a duty on all top pros to give something back.

“It’s up to the individual’s own heart,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say they have a ‘responsibility’ to do so, but I do think it is important to be a role model for your community.

“My target is for my foundation to not only support people in South Africa but to grow into other parts of Africa.”

To help get involved with the Kagisho Dikgacoi Foundation, you can check out the website – http://kagishodikgacoi.org/

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