Tue, 29 Sep 2020

When Johannesburg couple Barbara Mallinson and Ennis Jones called "full-time" on their daughter's soccer lessons due to some inappropriate and offside comments made by the coach, their little girl was devastated.

"We overheard the coach making inappropriate remarks, packaged in a 'joking' way. We feel strongly that topics like sexism or racism aren't funny especially when dealing with impressionable kids. So, we called it full-time," Mallinson said.

When the couple could not find a suitable alternative, they decided to look at hiring a coach and use their garden as a pitch.

They advertised online and was inundated with hundreds of applications from aspirant coaches.

Connecting children to trusted coaches

The couple wanted to help and therefore decided to create their own platform called Soccerhood, which connects children to a trusted coach in their neighbourhood.

"It was incredibly overwhelming and really painted a picture of many young people needing jobs. So, we thought ... how can we help those who are really looking for job opportunities," Mallinson said.

"Luckily, we were in a position to leverage what we do and use our technology platform to build an application process and an online development programme to select and train young, aspiring coaches and actually give these guys an opportunity to run their own businesses in local parks and spaces around Joburg ... [and] build a social impact venture."

Today, Soccerhood has 10 qualified and licenced coaches who were selected and trained, operating in 10 parks and open spaces in Johannesburg.

The coaches take home between 60 and 90% of the money made while still making it affordable for the parents.

The soccer circles are for children from 3 to 8 years old, with early childhood development-focused games to hold the attention of the girls and boys.

Coach Lerato Mogodiri said prior to starting at Soccerhood, she was in a learnership where her passion for soccer and children grew.

"[Soccer] that's where I believe I can make an impact. But, dealing with the 3-year-olds can be quite challenging," she added.

"It needs someone who is passionate about what they're doing," Mogodiri said.

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