Youth Development through Football (YDF)

Youth Development through Football (YDF) – Be inspired

In a nutshell

The Youth Development through Football (YDF) programme used football to promote youth development, particularly that of disadvantaged girls and boys, and to involve them in non-formal education and other support measures. Across ten African countries innovative football trainings helped overcome discrimination, improve health and combat disease, promote gender equality, prevent violence and secure environmental sustainability among the youth.

What we do

YDF fostered youth development and peace with the emphasis on mutual understanding, fairness and tolerance, using football as a catalyst.

To reach this target, YDF supported existing youth development initiatives and supported the establishment of new initiatives in African partner countries. It combined football education and training with development measures for thousands of young people, utilizing the power of football to build a better future.

The project primarily targets disadvantaged young people in the age group of 12 to 25 years in South Africa and 9 other African countries. YDF interacts with NGOs and government institutions that use the social and educational potential of sport for youth development; nevertheless, skilled local personnel in sports, youth and educational institutions and departments, football coaches, social workers and peer leaders play a crucial role as intermediaries.

It engaged disadvantaged and disabled youth, empowering them with skills to positively develop their personality and character. It thus increased opportunities to tackle their life and enhancing a strong civil society.

The YDF programme had four components:

  1. Support of ‘Youth Development through Football’ programmes and strategies.
  2. Establishment of a network of YDF partners.
  3. Development of concepts on capacity development and training.
  4. Participation in events to spread the philosophy, engage and showcase YDF partners.

The project management was supported by a steering committee that consisted of representatives of the South African Department of Sport and Recreation, the National Youth Commission, the South African Football Association, GIZ in South Africa as well as NGOs working in the field of youth development through football.

The YDF programme came to an end in March 2014. However, the toolkits continue to be freely available and can be downloaded on this page.

How we do it

The YDF programme transformed coaches into social workers and social workers into coaches to capitalize on the educational potential of sport. Coaches were equipped with socio-pedagogical skills while social workers acquired the corresponding knowledge of sport and exercise theory through the multi-faceted YDF toolkit.

YDF pursued a holistic approach, which meant meeting girls and boys on their own grounds, considering their respective social context. It used football in three ways:

  1. as an educational tool for strengthening social and personal competencies,
  2. as a means for access to non-formal education and
  3. as a tool for community development.

The programme developed a toolkit that integrates football exercises and non-formal life skills education. The toolkit offers strategies and lessons learned from the field development through football, to create sustainable change - both in the communities and in the individuals of all ages who participate in these efforts. They were developed in close cooperation with experts from the specific fields targeted in the YDF manuals.

Moreover, the toolkit assists coaches to realise their characters as leading figures, combining social skills and football techniques.YDF not only provided the toolkit, it also facilitated the training of coach instructors and coaches in all its ten African partner countries working closely with schools and sports coordinators.

The YDF Toolkit Brochure offers basic information on the approach of the YDF Toolkit and an overview of all YDF manuals that form part of the toolkit. Every YDF manual is presented by a short information and a selection of example exercises.

YDF Manual for Coaches

The ‘YDF Manual for Coaches' is the main tool to realise the youth development objectives of the project. It is aimed at integrating the specific skills of footballers and social workers.

YDF Manual for Disability Inclusion

The 'YDF Manual for Disability Inclusion'’ is consistent with the expansion of the ‘Youth Development through Football’ concept. The foundation module - the YDF Manual for Coaches - still constitutes the first introduction to the complex topic of Disability Inclusion, while the new short module builds on the different forms of reaction that are possible and elaborates in detail on tips for taking action.

YDF Manual for Gender Awareness

The 'YDF Manual for Gender Awareness’ is consistent with the expansion of the ‘Youth Development through Football’ concept. The foundation module - the YDF Manual for Coaches - still constitutes the first introduction to the complex topic of Gender Awareness, while the new short module builds on the different forms of reaction that are possible and elaborates in detail on tips for taking action.

YDF Manual for Environmental Awareness

The 'YDF Manual for Environmental Awareness' that is now available is consistent in its expansion of the ‘Youth Development through Football’ concept. If the foundation module - the YDF Manual for Coaches - still constitutes the first introduction to the complex topic of environmental awareness, then this manual builds on the different forms of reaction that are possible and elaborates in detail on tips for taking action.

YDF Manual for HIV Prevention

The 'YDF Manual for HIV Prevention' that is now available is consistent in its expansion of the ‘Youth Development through Football’ concept. The foundation module - the YDF Manual for Coaches - still constitutes the first introduction to the complex topic of HIV prevention, this manual builds on the different forms of reaction that are possible and elaborates in detail on tips for taking action.

YDF Manual for Sports Event Management

This short module on 'Sport for Development Events’ will be the next step to combine football and life skills. The module is a guide to integrate life skills into sports events. It specifically focuses on the combination of football events/tournaments and life skills. It offers event management knowledge, as well as a wide range of exercises to educate youths and to spread the message of sport for development.

YDF Manual for Violence Prevention

Although the foundation module – the ‘YDF Manual for Coaches’ – does include an initial introduction to the complex topic of violence prevention, the ‘YDF Manual for Violence Prevention’ takes the topic further by building on the different forms of action that are possible and elaborating in detail on tips for taking action.

What we have achieved

Almost 200 YDF Instructors from different South African provinces and 9 other African countries have been trained in the YDF Toolkit. The trained instructors themselves have implemented training courses for more than 1 565 coaches from 375 organisations which are implementing the YDF approach through the coaching of children and youths.

The YDF approach has directly touched the lives of over 62 000 young girls and boys in South Africa and more than 55 000 in the other 9 African partner countries. Of these, approximately 40% are girls. In addition, the number of youths who have been reached indirectly, through the support of partner organisations for example, is estimated at almost 15 000 in South Africa and about 52 000 in the other countries.

The YDF approach not only initiates changes in the lives of individuals, but also leads to long-term social changes through altered social behaviour and the motivation to become involved in voluntary work. This is because imparted values such as tolerance and fairness are fundamental social skills for democratic development, participation and integration.

The project has had and continues to have a demonstrable effect on the social behaviour of the youth. Almost 40% of young people involved in or reached by YDF activities display a significant decrease in antisocial behaviour in terms of demonstrating less violent, unethical and discriminatory behaviour. Just short of a third of these young people are of the opinion that this more peaceful behaviour is also extending beyond the football ground. More than 73% agree that life skills learnt are transferred to or implemented in everyday life experiences, for instance in greeting others, respecting elders, or being able to share food, pens or even sports shoes with others.

The researchers have since reported that according to 74% of the young boys and girls, their self-confidence has increased as a result of taking part in YDF activities. More than 81% of youths involved in the project see themselves as role models and report that they are recognised as catalysts for social change.

The YDF approach provides the participants with important life skills that help them obtain the knowledge necessary for developing healthy attitudes and taking their own futures in hand. It is no wonder then that almost 50% of the peer educators believe that they are more employable. Furthermore, nearly 80% of young people involved in or reached by YDF activities confirm that they are ‘more open to, respect and accept HIV-positive and AIDS sufferers’.

In Febuary 2014, the YDF programme handed over its Toolkit to the South African Football Association (SAFA) at an official ceremony held in Johannesburg.