Road Safety Awareness among our young Football Stars
During February 2016 many young South African football stars engaged with road safety and other professionals across South Africa on issues such as responsible driving, pitfalls of social media and other aspects that would prepare them for challenges on and off the pitch.
The Player Workshops and Road Safety
The Arrive Alive website was approached by Gabi Da Luz from Forwardzone with a request to offer some input on road safety during player workshops planned for the month of February.
Forwardzone, a Football Strategy and Advisory business, on behalf of the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, organized player workshops in Gauteng (x4), Cape Town (x1), Durban (x1), Port Elizabeth (x1), Bloemfontein (x1), Bethlehem (x1), Polokwane (x1) and Rustenburg (x1).
The MultiChoice Diski Challenge is the Reserve League to the PSL in which the reserve teams of all the PSL teams compete.
Purpose: The workshops aimed to address issues affecting young footballers in this country. Some of the key issues identified were responsible, sober and safe driving.
Why the focus on Road Safety?
The World Health Organisation confirms that road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people, aged 15–29 years. This is more deaths than HIV/AIDS and TB. The risks of deaths in injury from road crashes are also very real in South Africa where we lose 15,000 people annually on our roads. Young male drivers are a very high risk group of road users.
Road deaths among our football community in South Africa
We should never forget our victims of road crashes. Herewith an overview of those young football players and coaches we have lost in road crashes:
- In August 2003, our beloved 21-year-old, ‘Slow Poison’ died in a car accident on the N1 outside Musina. He was travelling with two other people, having represented his club Orlando Pirates against Jomo Cosmos in the SAA Supa 8 cup at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg.
- In September 2007 an exciting 23-year-old soccer player called Gift Leremi passed on in a car crash. He played for Orlando Pirates before he moved to Sundowns. He was driving his blue BMW along the R556, between Vaal Road and Brackendowns, Alberton, at 9pm, when he lost control. The car went off the road and overturned a number of times. He was then flung out of the vehicle
- Age 25 - Mozambique international defender Fernando ‘Nando’ Matola, his wife and two kids, were killed in a motor accident while he was in his prime at Black Leopards in 2007. The big defender was driving from Johannesburg to Maputo for a Nations Cup Qualifier when his car veered off road and went up in flames. Mozambique's most capped player and his family were burnt beyond recognition
- February 2009 - 4 Players die in Kokstad Crash. They were members of New Wales Football Club, and they lost their lives in a car accident on their way to honour a SAFA Metropolitan League fixture against Lucky Stars Football Club in Kokstad.
- September 2010 – 4 More players died. They were all members of Cosmos Football Club, playing in the SAB Regional League of the Safa Motheo Region in the Free State. They died on the same day a funeral was held for six players involved in an accident the previous week. They were on their way to Smithfield to complete their pre-season preparations.
- August 2010 - Oscar Ntwagae, Age 33 – Knocked by a motor vehicle in a hit and run in Germiston
- On a very cold and wet Thursday evening, October 2012; death wiped an icon in Limpopo. His name was Thomas ‘Chincha Guluva Madigage.
- October 2012 – A Bakkie fails to stop at Intersection killing 4 Inside the Polokwane City Football bus. Four soccer players were killed when the bakkie hit the side of their minibus on the R71, near Polokwane. The bus landed on its side in the path of oncoming traffic, where a bus carrying Zion Christian Church members crashed into it. The players were members of the Polokwane City football club and had been travelling from Oscar Mphetha stadium, where they had played a National First Division match against FC AK. The four were among 25 people who were travelling in the bus.
- Free State Stars’ Richard Henyekane died in the early hours of 7th April 2015 following a car accident in the early hours at the age of 31. He was with 4 other passengers but was the only one who lost his life.
- 25 October 2015 - we lost Sonwabile Cecil Lolo in a head-on collision in the early hours of this morning in Khayelitsha. He was a talented Ajax Cape Town player.
- More recently in January 2016 we lost Mondli Cele, a Maritzburg United midfielder and fan favourite who died after the car he was travelling in veered off into the Duzi river on Park Drive, Pietermaritzburg.
Planning of Road Safety Input for Player Workshops
The Arrive Alive website identified Road Safety Awareness Africa (RSAA) as the main partner to link with other stakeholders for coordination and implementation of this huge event. RSAA is a non-profit civil society organisation (150-522 NPO), established by people directly affected by road traffic crashes, who advocate for road safety & create broader awareness among our communities in South Africa, the African Continent and beyond.
On the basis of initial brief received on 20 January 2016, the scope of work and briefing session at a meeting on 28 January 2016, Buhle Dhlamini from Road Safety Awareness Africa [RSAA] conceptualised the understanding of the assignment into the following:
- The workshops would be aimed at addressing issues affecting young footballers in South Africa.
- One key issue to be addressed is safe/ defensive driving.
- The main reason for this is the fact that in this season alone, South Africa has lost at least two Premier Soccer League players due to road crashes
- RSAA would facilitate two presentations - road safety in general and the effects of drunk driving.
- This would be done in an hour long presentation during all the workshops.
- Other presentations from external consultants would cover aspects such as media management. [Neil Andrews]
- One of the workshops would be filmed and some of the content used in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge Magazine show, broadcasted on the Super Sport channel.
Road Safety Partners
Road Safety Awareness Africa [RSAA] proposed a comprehensive approach addressing the requirements as specified above.
Due to the logistical, financial and other challenges it was important to apply the available resources of road safety partners at various locations. These included:
South Africans against Drunk Driving (SADD): Presentation on responsible drinking.
Ms Caro Smit is the Founder and Director of SADD for the past 10 years. She is a Psychiatric Social Worker and a very experienced Alcohol & Drug Educator & Counselor. Her experience spans over 25years in this field, of both alcohol & drug education and treatment. She is an interactive and exciting presenter, who has taught many young people in a fun and non-judgmental way.
Caro has designed practical Manuals on alcohol, drink driving and basic road safety for Schools, Universities, Addiction Counselors and Dr.’s and Nurses in Emergency Rooms. She is the 2012 winner of Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award for the University project, a 2006 winner of C.A.R.S & S.A.G.M.J - “Road Safety Achievement of the Year award.”
The Arrive Alive Online Initiative: Social Media
Leveraging from the partnership with the Online Arrive Alive initiative, a brand that has been conducting road safety awareness for the past 12 years. The strong online presence through the website and blogs would be used to promote the events as they happen in each workshop. This is achieved through the use of the arrive alive social media platforms free of charge, which currently has 68 000 followers on Twitter, 12 000 on Facebook. The Arrive Alive website at www.arrivealive.co.za received more than a million visitor sessions during 2015.
The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA)
The RTIA participated in the four Road Safety Awareness Workshops conducted in Johannesburg - this is due to capacity constraints on their part in terms of travel. RTIA is an entity of the Department of Transport responsible for the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act.
The “Know Your Traffic Fine Status Campaign” was conducted. This is aimed at benefitting all the participants who volunteer to do the test before the commencement and post the workshop on the day. The campaign is mainly focused on education and creating awareness on AARTO.
Presentation on Safe / Defensive Driving
These presentations were delivered by Buhle Dlamini, Director of Road Safety Awareness Africa, and included:
- A combination of multimedia images and videos.
- Sharing facts and information which capture the essence of road safety awareness.
- Engaging with the football players on information and material shared in the presentations.
- Focusing on the contributory factors to road fatalities in South Africa.
Road Safety information highlighted:
- The need for defensive driving
- The road safety risks for young drivers
- Driving at night
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Wearing Seatbelts
- Obeying Rules of the Road
The Threats posed by Alcohol - Impaired Driving / Drunk Driving
- A discussion around the fact that many South Africans do not drink alcohol and are still normal & cool! We encourage this.
- We educate about alcohol, use, abuse and dependence. This is so that the players and management know the difference between normal drinking; when it starts to cause problems, and when they need help/treatment.
- Drunk Driving. What that is - how you reach these levels; and how to stay under the legal limit.
- Units of alcohol so that people can know the “safer” limits, so that if they choose to drink, that they drink in a more responsible way. These are called “The Safer Drinking Rules”.
- What the legal blood alcohol level is, and how you get to this level looking at units of alcohol.
- Display the SADD “Drinking then Driving DVD.” (15 minutes).
- Illustrating how alcohol affects the body by letting participants use the “drunk goggles” so that they can see how the brain sees the road after drinking.
- Educate around the elimination rates of alcohol
Road safety requires public private partnerships and combining expertise to make our road users safer. We would like to commend all who contributed to the success of all these workshops. We also wish to congratulate all the teams that recognized the importance of these events and actively participated!
It is our collective duty and responsibility as the clubs, and fellow South Africans, to ensure the safety of the players. We would like to advise all clubs to use roadworthy vehicles, not to travel too fast, to leave on time or make other arrangements when playing too far away, to avoid overloading and to use safer transport and Arrive Alive!