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Soccerhub: Delivering Change in African Football

15 July 2016

We were invited to attend the “Progress through sustainable sports and design” exhibition in London, an event made up to showcase the development of sustainable community-owned projects in Africa. The event was the key moment of an exhibition organised by Sandlanders Football, Inter Urban Studios, Architecture for Humanity UK and Adidas, held at 19 Greek street from the 27th to 30th June.

It gave us the opportunity to raise awareness on the activity of Sandlanders Football in Africa and especially on the main protagonist of the event: the Soccerhub, a community sport facility projected to be built in Keta, Ghana.

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Sandlanders Football was founded in 2010 and “focuses on the development of sustainable clubs, league systems and infrastructure to promote democratic community ownership, transparency and good governance in the administration of sports in Africa”. They’ve partnered up with Supporters Direct, which has been assisting the set-up of democratic football supporters’ organizations in Europe over the last 15 years.

The main exhibition room was displaying several models of the Soccerhub, bags of sand and a pair of shoes. The pictures hanged to the walls gave us a first explanation of what the Soccerhub was about: a sports facility built on a site made available by the municipality of Keta and which will host a community building, a full-size soccer pitch, beach soccer and training pitches, dormitories and a model farm. It will be partly owned and run by the municipality of Keta and by Keta Sandlanders FC. It will also serve the community, for education, industry and recreation purposes, in addition to the needs of the local football club. The funding will be a mixture of local and international contributions and corporate partners.

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Whilst we had the opportunity to observe from different angles the models of Soccerhub and its features quoted before, Paul Jones, director of Sandlanders, provided an explanation on the bags of earth, followed by the Chairman of Nigeria’s Stationery Stores and the British High Commissioner to Ghana. A component of Inter Urban Studios explained that the design has been tailored to the need of the community and is environmentally friendly. It will involve the use of local materials such as earth bags to build the walls, which reduces cost and minimizes waste.

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The cost of the whole project is expected to be around $200,000. Once initial funding is in place, the SoccerHub is modelled to run sustainably and generate its own funds through ongoing corporate partnerships and other activities (e.g. internet cafe, sporting activities and farming) carried out on the site.  And because the SoccerHub will be owned and managed by the co-operative football club, the income that the facilities are able to generate will all be reinvested into the Keta community. This is real #FanPower!

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The shoes displayed are the Adidas x parsley shoes, a 3D printed prototype made of plastic and illegal deep-sea nets found in the ocean. Adidas turns these materials into fibres that can be used in its training shoes and clothing products. Ocean pollution and illegal fishing are major long-term issues along the coastlines of Africa where many of the Sandlanders clubs and supporters’ group are based.

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The second floor of the event hosted pictures of the community-owned clubs supported by Sandlanders and showed interesting stories such as the Stationery Stores FC from Nigeria, and the Socios CSS, an association who brought the voice of supporters within the club of CS Sfaxien, currently playing in the Tunisian Premier League.

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We would like to thank Sandlanders for having us at this event and congratulate them for their great job so far, and for the promising future in bringing the communities into the administration of their local clubs. Stories like this definitely showcase how football is a real tool of empowering communities through Fan Power.

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