Gridiron South Africa was founded in 2015 to introduce and develop the growing sport of American Football in South Africa. The organization is now in its second year and is seeing considerable growth in three regions from one province – Gauteng – and positive interest from two more this year.
The founding team has learned a great deal, both good and bad but continues to grow. The lessons learned include involving coordinators who have expressed interest in establishing their own team initiatives and working with the organization in administration-related responsibilities and acquiring volunteer support. In the early stages, too many people looked at it as a job opportunity and expected compensation.
The three locations in Gauteng Province that have seen the establishment of solid teams are Benoni, Pretoria and Tsakane, and there has also been plenty of interest from Johannesburg and Soweto.
Further to this, Cape Town and Durban have new coordinators who have started recruiting players for their planned activities and engaging with potential support.
The biggest challenge currently is maintaining players within the teams. Due to the lack of support and recognition for the sport here at present, the organization does not have the financial resources to buy equipment from overseas and also hire quality personnel to take on administration, fundraising and coaching roles.
Gaining recognition for American football entails acquiring the equipment that interested participants expect to see when we are discussing the game with potential contacts. The equipment enables us to be able to fully distinguish our activities from soccer. It also confirms that we will have equipment three months after players have participated in non-contact football.
So far, Gridiron South Africa’s only camp was held in April 2016, but plans have been laid to hold monthly camps and possibly establish American football academies for 2017 with prospective partners. The next planned camp will be held on the February 18 at Geluksdal Stadium in Johannesburg.