Impressions from the world of football

All over the world football writes stories which happen aside sold out arenas and the general football media buzz. In different episodes Allianz football for life gets you the stories from different continents and cultures


Ajax Amsterdam displays social responsibility by supporting Ajax Cape Town’s Community Scheme

The Mother City club's innovative Community Scheme focuses on using the game as a tool of social development while utilising their parent club's continued support and funding.

      

The power of football goes beyond the community it fashions between fans, the sense of belonging it creates for supporters and the revenue it generates. South African football club Ajax Cape Town, with the support of their parent club Ajax Amsterdam, has taken the influence of football to a new level, using it as a development tool and a way to help the poverty-stricken communities around Cape Town to overcome their disadvantages and learn vital life lessons.

Some of the fervour surrounding the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa was focused around the possibilities of social development and the expansion of football infrastructure in the country following the tournament.

There has always been a wealth of talent and interest in Cape Town, but previously the lack of support has meant that many children were not able to develop their skills or learn from the social benefits of the game.

Ajax Cape Town decided to combat this with their innovative Community Scheme, which was initiated even before the 2010 event began. The World Cup has made more people aware of the community-based programmes in South Africa, which focus on using the game as a social tool and continue to inspire with their commitment to the local communities.

The Ajax Cape Town Community Scheme began in early 2007, in partnership with the the British High Commission, Charlton Athletic and the South African Police Services (SAPS). The scheme consists of seven programmes all focused on the policy of youth development.

Ajax Amsterdam owns 51% of the Cape Town club, and gave its full support to the club’s decision to start focusing on the community with financial backing and its professional European coaching techniques and training. The European powerhouse has supported the scheme ever since its inception and believe in the importance of future social development.

The scheme combines the influence of the world’s most popular sport with various programmes which help to dissuade young children from falling into the traps of drugs, alcohol and gangsterism. Football is being used as a powerful tool which can help to invoke change in some of the most crime-ridden areas of Cape Town, by giving the children the chance to escape the dangers of crime and social ills in order to pursue their dreams and become responsible individuals.

One of the notable programmes includes Kick ‘n Learn, which combines social upliftment and the physical benefits of playing football. The programme is based in Primary Schools around the Cape Town area and gives thirty pre-selected children the opportunity to learn about essential facets of life including nutrition, the dangers of drugs and the importance of safety. Coupled with these life skills, an hour of football training is provided during each session, emphasising the enjoyable aspects of the game and the spirit of team-work.

When the Community Scheme was introduced, Ajax Cape Town was one of the pioneering clubs in South Africa to pursue a social development programme.Its focus on giving back to the community and on the club’s philosophy of youth development.

Ajax Amsterdam not only offers financial support but also helps in terms of training coaches in compliance with the 'Total Football' tradition. The Dutch club is responsible for the scheme’s continued presence and social development ethic.

Riyaad Khan, the Community Scheme Administrator, praised Ajax Amsterdam’s support of the various programmes.  

 “When we established the community scheme they [Ajax Amsterdam] obviously supported us in the decision to start up a full-time community programme,” Khan told Goal.com.

“Ajax Amsterdam gives us their support and they assist us in terms of the coaching and the training of the coaches.

“We are very fortunate that we have got a lot of Dutch guys at Ajax Cape Town who come from Ajax Amsterdam. They offer quite vigorous coaching courses which mean that the community scheme coaches can enhance our standards and ensure that when we go out into the schools, we are performing coaching methods which are of Ajax Amsterdam’s standards.”

Ajax Amsterdam offers direct involvement with the Street Sweep programme which combines coaching and life orientation for street kids in conjunction with the local police. The parent clubs funds all the food for the programme.

Ajax Cape Town has also worked with exclusive charities such as the Happy Africa Foundation, when the club sponsored a party for the entire Redhill community, preparing food for its one thousand residents and handing football equipment and gifts to children.

Leonara Reid, a member of Charity Development at the Happy Africa Foundation spoke to Goal.com about the success of Ajax’s programmes in conjunction with the charity. Reid has also worked extensively with Ajax Cape Town in terms of the various other programmes the club offers.

“It has been a great relationship with us so far. Ajax has done really well in terms of its social development.The life skills and the street kids programme was incredible,” Reid said.

“The club’s programmes really work.Redhill is a small community which not many people know about and Ajax did a great job there.”

Riyaad Khan believes that Ajax Cape Town's efforts are a vital tool in the overall role of the football club and that the 2010 World Cup has lead to more exposure for the Community Scheme.

“If you don’t give back to the community, then what’s the point of having a football club?” Khan added.

“At the end of the day the World Cup has led to more exposure, as more people are aware of the work we are doing, but there has been no more sponsorship.

“We’re not doing the community scheme for money. We’re doing it to make a positive difference in the lives of the youths of Cape Town.

“We’re trying to ensure that these kids have a future, whether it be in soccer, whether it be as a doctor, a photographer or a media person it doesn’t matter. We are trying to give these kids positive role models through Ajax Cape Town and through football.