Since the beginning of 2014, SDS has been working in partnership with Sandlanders Football – an organisation that works with football clubs, supporters groups and associations across Africa. Here are details on their latest project.
The 2014 World Cup has been a memorable one and Africa’s participants provided more than their fair share of drama to the event. Though two African nations (Algeria and Nigeria) made it through to the last 16 for the first time, the campaigns of Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon were all blighted by reports of infighting and disputes over pay.
These rows – which in Ghana’s case led to $3m cash being airlifted to Brazil and the expulsion of two senior players on the eve of their final group game – allude to wider problems in the financing and administration of football in sub-Saharan Africa. While in general there remains a huge deficit in the money being injected into football in Africa via commercial activities, match day revenue and TV rights, there is more money in the game today than ever before and with this comes a responsibility to allocate funds carefully.
Ghana’s government reportedly approved a $9.6m budget for the World Cup (a reduction of the proposed $22m following a public outcry) and the Black Stars are further supported by sponsors including from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and Guiness but domestically there remains precious little investment in sports infrastructure.
While a strong Black Stars team can project a positive image of Ghana on the international stage, this needs to be balanced with investment into local facilities that will limit the drain of talent and corporate support. Poor facilities in the domestic game – clubs generally do not generally have access to their own facilities and most lower league football is played on run-down ‘village’ pitches – contribute to a general lack of interest and belief which in turn limits attendance at local games now abandoned in favor of televised broadcasts of the English Premier League and La Liga.
Recent private projects including the Lizzie Sports Complex, the successful Right to Dream Academy and academies run by European sides Red Bull Salzburg and Feyenoord have demonstrated the value of more professional infrastructure in Ghana but more can be done to make long term plans and develop this infrastructure more widely.
Both the public and private sector have a role to play to improve this situation. Successful sports infrastructure should contribute to community life and also enable Black Stars of the future to develop in a more professional environment. Municipalities benefit by providing their citizens with better facilities and sponsors will benefit from association with a project which is making a difference.
Against this backdrop, Sandlanders Football has launched a major fundraising campaign via the Indiegogo crowd-funding platform. The #KickstartKeta campaign seeks to raise £35,000 to start construction of the Keta SoccerHub – a sustainable community sports facility to be located on a 6.5 acre site in Keta, Ghana.
Pioneering a new model for the financing and development of community-based sports facilities in Africa, the Keta SoccerHub will be owned and operated jointly by Keta Sandlanders FC (a community-owned Division 2 football club) and the Keta Municipality.
We aim to raise the £120,000 Phase I development costs from a mixture of local community funding (1%), online crowd funding (29%) and corporate partner contributions (70%). The Phase I development will include the main pitch and a multi-functional community building. Phase II will involve development of the remaining structures on the site – dormitories and classroom, mini training pitch and beach soccer pitch, market area and model farm.
The #KickstartKeta campaign aims to raise awareness of the crowd funding exercise and to direct football fans and other supporters of community development to www.kickstartketa.com to make a pledge of between £5 and £1,500. Members of Ghana’s World Cup squad have signed merchandise which will be offered as part of the campaign and former Ghana Black Stars midfielder Yussif Chibsah, currently playing for Djurgårdens IF in the Swedish Premier League, is the project’s main Ambassador.
In return for their pledge, supporters receive rewards including having their name engraved on a brick at the project site, a letter of thanks from the local Chief, t-shirts signed by Ghana’s World cup squad, personalized video messages from Yussif Chibsah, an exclusive tour of Yussif’s club in Stockholm, an invitation to the project ground breaking ceremony in Keta and even a chance to play for the Keta Sandlanders in a game against a Ghanaian Premier League side.
Architecture for Humanity London have prepared dynamic designs for the SoccerHub which are sensitive to the environment and involve the use of local materials and innovative techniques such as the building of earth bag walls, which reduce cost and minimise waste.
Access to sports infrastructure remains a huge issue across Africa and we believe the SoccerHub model is a cost-effective way to develop sustainable sports facilities. Such facilities don’t need to cost millions of dollars and we want to show that we can build something of value in the Keta community at a fraction of the cost.
To provide some context, the $3m flown to Brazil would enable 15 SoccerHubs to be built around Ghana. International supporters will play a vital role by providing the initial funding to get the project moving and we would like to invite everyone to visit www.kickstartketa.com to pledge their support.
Paul Jones. Director, Sandlanders Football