Press Release

DKMS Africa and AmaZulu F.C. Give Blood Cancer the Red Card

AmaZulu F.C., the oldest club in the South African Premier League, has teamed up with DKMS Africa to launch DKMS Soccer Heroes, a project aimed at sending blood cancers and disorders off the field.


Cape Town, 20 March 2024 – AmaZulu F.C., the oldest club in the South African Premier League, has teamed up with DKMS Africa to launch DKMS Soccer Heroes, a project aimed at sending blood cancers and disorders off the field.

Palesa Mokomele, DKMS Africa’s Head of Community Engagement and Communications, explains that by tapping into South Africans’ love for soccer, the project seeks to rally more people to spread awareness about these illnesses and encourage them to register as stem cell donors to potentially save lives. “Often, a stem cell transplant from a matching donor is a patient’s best – and sometimes only-chance of a cure.”

The DKMS Soccer Heroes project will see the non-profit organisation partnering with leading soccer clubs to create conversation around the less talked about topic of cancer in general and blood cancer in particular. “Soccer clubs from across the country are also invited to give cancer the red card and hope to patients through a sport we all love,” she adds.

AmaZulu F.C. spokesperson, Philani Ndlela, says, “We have always maintained that AmaZulu is not just a football club, we are part of a bigger cause to leave a positive impact wherever we go and in whatever we touch. We believe that, through our collaboration with DKMS Africa, we will be able to help give patients - among whom are our fans and their families – a second chance at life by demystifying the stem cell donation process and encouraging more people to become donors.”

A key element of the project entails raising awareness and educating the community about blood cancer, blood disorders and the journey experienced by patients to get to transplant.

One such patient is 26-year-old Owami who played soccer for the University of Johannesburg prior to being diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anaemia – a life-threatening and rare blood disorder that occurs when the body can't make enough new blood cells.

He first became aware of his symptoms back in 2020 when his performance on the pitch began to suffer. “I could feel I wasn't at my best, but I thought it was a sign to train harder." Eventually, he had to see a doctor when his symptoms advanced to the point where he struggled to walk short distances.

In 2021, he received the news that he had Severe Aplastic Anaemia. “It took a while before I told my family. My mother took it very hard; she couldn't stop crying.”

Unfortunately, none of Owami’s three sisters are a match so he is now dependent on the generosity of a stranger. However, there is currently no match on the global stem cell registry. “You, or someone in your club, could be that life-saving match,” urges Mokomele.

Owami concludes by saying, “Soccer taught me that nothing happens when you're by yourself. It takes a team to reach dreams, to inspire others, to affect real change. Together, we are unbeatable and together we can give blood cancer the red card. I encourage all clubs to become part of the DKMS Soccer Heroes team.”

Interested clubs can email For more information, contact DKMS Africa on 0800 12 10 82.

About AmaZulu F.C.

Nicknamed Usuthu, AmaZulu is one of South Africa’s greatest football clubs with a rich history and legacy. The club was started by Zulu migrant workers back in the 1930s. It has evolved together with all the changes that have happened in South Africa since then.

The club has however never lost its deep-rooted connection to the community and the people of KwaZulu-Natal, remaining the region’s great hope in the Premier Soccer League.

About DKMS Soccer Heroes

The DKMS Soccer Heroes Project is a catalyst for social change to reach our fellow citizens where they are and through what they love the most. By fostering a community of hope, resilience and awareness, the project hopes to contribute to increased survival rates and improved quality of life for patients, as well as to re-instil agency within the very communities where the incidence of blood cancers and blood disorders is prevalent.