City supports football development initiatives
The City of Johannesburg has thrown its weight behind fresh and innovative efforts by the South African Football Association (SAFA) to nurture grassroots football.
The SAFA Development Agency on Tuesday April 21 launched what it calls a “safe hub” in Alexandra, northern Johannesburg.
The Alexandra Safe Hub – one of 12 to be rolled out within the city in the foreseeable future – includes an artificial football pitch and a youth development centre, complete with solar-powered floodlights and security. The initiative forms part of Vision 2022, a SAFA strategy aimed at bolstering the fortunes of national football teams with a view to positioning the senior national team, Bafana Bafana, in the Top 3 sides in Africa and Top 20 in the world.
Speaking at the launch, Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Community Development Councillor Chris Vondo said the City was grateful for the opportunity to partner with the private sector on the project.
He said he was looking forward to working closely with both SAFA and its development agency on this project. Other partners in the initiative are sports equipment and accessories company Totalsports and award-winning Cape Town-based non-governmental organisation Amandla EduFootball, around whose model the safe hubs are based. The organisations see this as a comprehensive approach to boosting youth-focused football and social development in Johannesburg.
Through the Alexandra Safe Hub, the partners hope to support high-impact and proven youth development interventions in partnership with local schools, clubs and non-governmental organisations.
SAFA and the City believe the mass support of football will also help strengthen and maintain the quality of South African football going forward.
SAFA estimates that the Alexandra Safe Hub alone will be accessed by up to 2 500 young people a week. In addition to the building of the facility, Totalsports will invest R5.4 million in a centre administrator, SAFA regional technical officer and nine local technical officers. The sponsorship will also cover the costs of a talent identification programme; under-13 and under-15 talent scouting events; three grassroots festivals; and the training of 360 D, 180 C and 30 B licence coaches, and 180 referees. There will also be a strong focus on girls’ football through the development of under-13 and under-15 girls’ leagues.
SAFA President Danny Jordaan delivered the main address in which he quipped that “the funniest thing about grassroots football is that you start off with no grass”.