Did you know? Soccer is the most popular sport in South Africa, with an estimated 2 million of the population being soccer players.
However, the unfortunate reality is that many young South African soccer players come from the poorest communities, as the sport often offers a much-needed escape from the troubles of their home lives. Understanding this, the Cape Town division of Amsterdam’s Ajax Football club run a youth development programme for promising young soccer players in the hopes that they can help to maximise the benefits of the sport for them.
The programme did not get off to an easy start, though; because of the disadvantages many of the players faced at home, their progress with the club was made difficult. Many were undernourished and lacked focus, and because they lived in areas with such a high crime-rate, their equipment would often get stolen, resulting in a constant weight on their morale.
Not only this, but on average less than only 1% of soccer players go on to be recruited by professional teams in the upper leagues. This meant that even though Ajax FC could help these young athletes during their time on the programme, it had no way of ensuring their continued progress should they leave.
Ajax FC’s team of up-and-coming soccer stars
In 2018, Ajax FC therefore set out to launch a high-performance academy to provide even more help to those who needed it. This academy provided players with good food, safe accommodation and regular training, and to ensure their continued success, Ajax FC even enrolled its students onto a series of Online Business School’s Business Management courses through a local partner college.
Ranging from school to university level, these courses will help these young athletes to achieve success no matter where their futures take them. Ajax FC has provided a way out of a tough situation for these young men, and in supporting them in both their sporting and academic lives, the club has opened up career paths and higher education opportunities that might have otherwise remained unavailable.