The South African Football Association’s (Safa’s) Development Agency (SDA) is urging corporate companies to partner and invest in its football-based Safe-Hub programme, which aims to encourage youth to engage in life skills programmes through the use of football.
The Safe-Hub programme – which is modelled after nongovernment organisation Amandla EduFootball’s Safe-Hub in Cape Town – hopes to repeat the original programme’s success of reducing crime-related incidents by 44% and improving learner’s math and English pass rate by 49%.
There are Safe-Hubs operating in Khayelitsha and in Gugulethu in the Western Cape, and one funded by entertainment group Tsogo Sun, in Diepsloot in Gauteng.
The SDA and Amandla also hope to roll out 100 Safe-Hubs throughout the country by 2030 – one in each district and more than one in densely populated areas.
SDA CEO Robin Petersen tells Polity that the Safe-Hubs provide a comprehensive, integrated set of youth development services, using football as the key driver of engagement and retention.
Each centre is a multipurpose community hub where people can access a range of education, health and enterprise development services, while acting as a viable and attractive alternative for young people to get involved in positive activities.
As part of the Safe-Hub programme, participants play 5-aside football but are also being scored on a fair play football league by learning to lose and win and controlling aggression.
“We partnered with Amandla EduFootball, to develop more Safe-Hubs, which includes infrastructure built, an artificial pitch, floodlights and a 600 m2 youth centre. The programme uses 5-a-side football at its core, and we hope to have 2 000 kids participating twice a week at each site,” said Petersen.
A Safe-Hub is being constructed in Alexandra, in Gauteng and is being funded by retail brand Totalsports.
SDA will also take over the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto, in Gauteng and convert the centre into a Safe-Hub and as the year progresses further sites will open in Jabulani and Tembisa in Gauteng; in Klerksdorp in the North West; in Kimberley in the Northern Cape, and in Gansbaai in the Western Cape in partnership with the Football Foundation.
SDA is dependent on corporates to help roll out the projects. Each Safe-Hub costs R3.5-million a year to run and R16-million for the Safe-Hub’s infrastructure. SDA has structured its build programme and programme funding to allow companies to get involved with as little as R60 000.
“We tie their funding into points on their scorecard, such as socioeconomic development, enterprise development and supply development because we are building small businesses within the Safe-Hub. There are ways we can structure the points companies require on their new codes and rely on them for the funding we need,” explained Petersen.
SDA and Amandla are also creating a social impact fund to fund the Safe-Hubs. This is a registered financial services product and will be used to guarantee a social impact investor their capital back over a ten-year period and an annual statement of investment return in terms of social impact, which will be monetised.
The partnership is also currently piloting version two of the Safe-Hub programme, which involves the construction of a 600 m2 youth facility, an information technology-friendly space, mentors to guide participants on areas of employment and education, as well as an enterprise development incubation centre.
The outcomes of version two will be to have 20 learners graduating to employment and the creation of three businesses every year, so that the SDA expands the employment creation aspect of the Safe-Hub.
Version two requires a larger youth centre and was recently launched at the Gugulethu Safe-Hub. Amandla will pilot the new programme a year before it is rolled out to other Safe-Hubs.
“Ultimately, we aim to roll out the Safe-Hubs as a social franchise. We received funding from the Industrial Development Corporation and Barclays Premier League to build a franchise model and have had a toolkit developed. We are in talks with nonprofit organisations such as LoveLife and Grassroot Soccer to supply them with the system and the funding and ask them to deliver the social impact and the management support,” Petersen said.