Empowering Professional Soccer Players in South Africa: Evaluation of Project Ithuseng
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCE & COACHING
University of Cape Town, Sports Sci Inst S Africa
The aim of this study was to evaluate Project Ithuseng, a life skills programme for professional soccer players in South Africa (SA). Prior to implementation, a needs assessment questionnaire was administered to all players, and seven focus groups were conducted with players. A life skills questionnaire was administered to all players pre- and post-implementation (n=123). Post-implementation, seven focus groups and nine key informant interviews were conducted. Priority issues identified in the formative evaluation were planning for the future, leadership, communication, teamwork, self-confidence, taking responsibility and financial skills. Post-implementation focus groups revealed that Project Ithuseng was generally perceived as beneficial for players. The main factor influencing successful implementation was the support of team management. There was a significant difference between pre- and post-implementation scores on the life skills questionnaire (p=0.046). Through encouraging collaboration between soccer stakeholders in SA, Project Ithuseng has created a platform for future work in this area.