It is our responsibilty to help build the next generations regardless of status. Collectively we can eradicate poverty, educate and support our youths.
Social Responsibility & Enterprise has an important role to play in the development of youth football & sports as well as building the future responsible leaders. So how can social responsibility in youth football & sports have an impact on a community or a nation’s people and its economy? To appreciate the importance of social responsibility in youth football & sports for any community, we need to know what it is all about and its benefits to the community, organisation & the nation.
What, then, is Social Responsibility?
Social Responsibility, as defined in Wikipedia, is an ethical ideology or theory that an entity, an organisation or individual, has as an obligation to act to benefit the society at large. Social Responsibility is a tripartite partnership – Individual Social Responsibility (ISR), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Government Social Responsibility (GSR).
What makes an individual socially responsible (ISR)? A socially responsible individual is someone that participates in the improvement of their local community including their engagement with local people in solving local issues & problems as part of their social responsibilities. We can, as individuals, make a proactive stance to influence a sustainable development in our community and demand the same approach from the organisations operating in our local community in an attempt to eradicate poverty, create jobs and invest in the young generations through sports. Each individual can volunteer to get involved in organising local events to raise money to help build either a bore-hole for drinking water, drainage system, help repair local school, build vocational centres or hospitals amongst other things.
There are some professional footballers who come to mind, that are giving back to their communities in order to help eradicate poverty, improve life values and provide education & health. Examples of these are Nigeria striker Nwankwo Kanu, Aaron Mokoena of South Africa and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, to name a few. Though we can point to the fact that these are sportsmen with some money to spare, it is important to note that the objectives of their roles in the communities are what matters to the people in the community. There are other individual philanthropists who are putting back into the communities through supporting youth football and sports. Just as Kathryn Anastos once said “Our responsibility as privileged human beings is to pay back for the opportunities we’ve received”.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the other hand is the role that a company plays in supporting the community. An organisation’s work in the community as a business entity can bring benefits to the business itself- ranging from increased sales, positive image – [as good citizens, friendly & responsible], to long-term existence of the business, product development and improvement. The organisation can spearhead events focusing on education and/or regeneration programs. To achieve the maximum benefits of social responsibility, an organisation need to be involved in social enterprise programs, in partnership with local governments, with focus on addressing youth social problems. Businesses need to design sport initiatives that are accessible, affordable and attractive to give youths from deprived areas the opportunities to participate & succeed and be able to meet the challenges the youths are confronted with. Football and other sports can be used as a major force for social change by facilitating the development and empowerment of youths who can become self-assured, responsible and active adults. These in turn can bring economic benefits to the organisation and the host communities they operate in. Most youths are disillusioned with all the recent closures of or lack of sports facilities and vocational centres that can help engage them in positive activities and keep them out of trouble and off the streets.
Possible sport initiatives that can engage the youths:
- A sport event involving the local youths & community that will focus on educating them in team work, respect for each other, taking responsibilty and leadership qualities.
- Closer links with educational and career opportunities organisations for young people and the unemployed.
- Sports Workshops & Clinics – that address life skills values (teamwork, respect for others & hard work) & employment possibilities which can also promote confidence and commitment.
- Partnerships with public schools to encourage committed sports participation in the school curriculum to spot potentials.
Research after research indicates that social responsibility has taken a new dimension, where companies now see themselves taking the roles that are normally associated with governments in tackling and addressing social causes. Why is this? we wonder, The answer is manifested in the fact that some governments are washing their hands off their responsibilities for the development of youth sports hence the cutbacks on funding for sports. Businesses now see their involvements with the host communities as vehicles to use to drive revenues, retain and grow customer loyalty including building new market share and encourage local employment through social enterprise programs which will help to stimulate local economy.
Social Enterprise has a different angle to solving youth social problems compared to the theory of dependency on sponsorship. It is a commitment to generate income that is reinvested for the purpose of building skills and abilities of the youths & communities. “Youths prefer to be stimulated instead of being instructed” – Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe. Social Enterprise is, mostly, bourne out of corporate social responsibilities. So companies/organisations need to incorporate social entrepreneurship and responsibility into their business strategy to show their committments in supporting the community causes. Good corporate citizenship has to be a part of a DNA for any business.
Government Social Responsibilty (GSR). The recently concluded London 2012 Olympics was an inspiration to young people and we saw an increase in youth participation in various sports, young people participating and breaking olympic records & also helping in making it a success which is to support the 2012 Olympics theme – ‘Inspire a Generation’. In all of these events, I find it hard to swallow that only a handful of African countries manage to produce a few number of athletes let alone enough youth athletes which does not speak well for the future of sports in Africa considering the vast array of sports talents available in the continent of Africa. The question is what legacy is this Olympics going leave in the minds of youths – hope or despair? The South Africa 2010 soccer world cup was suppose to leave a legacy in African countries, two years on it is difficult to ascertain how many African countries has actually implemented policies addressing youth football & sports developments programs. Governments in Africa are failing to realise the importance and the power of sports in addressing the apparent youth disillusionments & unrest.
There is a definite and growing need for positive initiatives to deliver sports programs that are fit for social purpose but there are some underlying factors that are holding back youth sports development in some parts of Africa which need to be addressed.
- The lack of government funding in helping build adequate sports facilities in schools and communities.
- Problems with government’s tax incentives for organisations that want to have close links with sport academies & schools to promote youth paticipations in sports.
- The lack of corporate citizenship & strategic alignment with government’s priorities on sports investments.
- No social market that operates with equality of opportunity and social responsibility which is supplemented by government’s assistance for the youths and unemployed.
- Corruptions and Exploitations are major culprits of non progress for African football and sports in general.
For Africa to have sustainable youth sports development programs there has to be collaborative and workable social programs between the governments, private organisations and individual philanthropists that will subsequently help eradicate poverty, reduce gender discriminations, improve physical & mental health issues including opportunities to increase confidence and self-esteem amongst our youths and communities. Social enterprise and community projects through sports can provide a platform for young people to believe in themselves and develop into responsible citizens. Nelson Mandela once said that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It speaks to youths in the language they understand. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down social barriers”.
Well, with all that has been said and suggested, the bottom line is that everybody has a social responsibility to their community either through football or other sports. Maybe you are involved or had been involved in some youth community projects and you will like to share your experience with us, please leave your comments below.