Ajax has had a majority stake in Ajax Cape Town in South Africa since 1999. In the Message from Cape Town column, we focus on the African Ajax every Monday. In this issue, we feature the Roadshows, which the club is doing.
It sounds like Roadshow would be a musical event, but in Cape Town, it’s something else. At Ajax Cape Town, the marketing specialists and the football technical people succeeded in going into Cape Town neighbourhoods with youth teams on three Saturdays in a row and play there with five teams against the best players of the region.
Houtbay, Khajelitsha and Grassypark were the setting for the athletic days. Corné Groenendijk, head of youth academy, has been closely involved with the organization of the events. “It’s a great concept. Our youth teams preferably play at our complex because we have very good facilities. Now, the season’s over for the youth teams, and it’s fun to go into the neighbourhoods a few times. As teachers, we want them to play against strong opponents.”
So churches, schools and clubs were asked to gather the best players of the region to play against Ajax Cape Town. Ajax was present at the event with its under 12,13,14,15 and 17 teams. But it’s not only the youth players who are a part of the program on location, but a select group from Ajax Cape Town is also on hand for a session and to sign autographs. In Houtbay, it was a special event: an artificial turf field, laid down partly through a Dutch initiative, was opened. With music, braai and football, it was an unforgettable afternoon.
For youth coaches, it’s an ideal way to see new teams, who will play from the start of the new season – which begins on February 1, 2012. “It’s definitely worth the effort”, says Groenendijk. “The opposing teams are mostly nice to each other; but it’s tough. Public interest varies greatly. In Houtbay, almost the entire neighbourhood came. But last Saturday in Grassypark, almost nobody came. We try to organize these activities about four times per year, at the end of the season. One fell through this season, so we did it three times.”
Last Thursday, the youth players had their last practice, and have a closing party this Saturday which is comparable to the Vanenavond in Amsterdam. The youth player of the year will be chosen then. Then, Ajax Cape Town’s season ends, and preparations start for the new season in February. School holidays are in mid-December and South Africa enjoys summer holidays.