On 3 August 2019, football teams such as the Plaashuisen Warriors and Atletico Madrid hit the pitch for some good, clean fun in an indoor tournament at Fives Futbol in Menlyn Park. The Recovery Foundation’s vision for the Football Fundraiser was to give recovering addicts the opportunity to meet new people and play a team sport while raising funds to give people the chance to recover from addiction. The Recovery Foundation strives to inspire hope by showing people that drug addicts can recover, while fighting to break the stigma attached to addiction.
The Warm Up
The Football Fundraiser was dreamt up as a way of bringing recovering addicts and interested individuals together through sport, teamwork and a common goal. In the lead up to the big day, Roberto Ferreira, Director at The Recovery Foundation, and Jerome Soares, event coordinator, did most of the heavy lifting in terms of the organisation of the event. Fortunately, The Recovery Foundation also received lots of help and support from different people and organisations. Donations poured in – taking many shapes and forms!
“There was a Yu-Gi-Oh figurine donated from A.I. Fest. A World Cup DVD set was given to us by an anonymous donor. An Echo Dot speaker from The Smart Home Shop. Food donated from the Spar in Silver Oaks. Cold Drinks donated by Kingsley Cola as well as gift hampers donated by Menlyn Mall,” describes Roberto.
These donations were earmarked for prizes, raffles and saleable items for the day of the fundraiser. In addition, The Recovery Foundation purchased medals to give the top 3 teams and a trophy for the winning team. All of these items contributed to the spirit of giving and the fun of the day.
The Kick Off
The day began and there was an excited hum at the event. Many of the teams were itching to play while others – those who were playing indoor football for the first time – were a little nervous. Luckily, it did not take long for them to learn the ropes and many of them were thrilled to try something new.
The indoor football tournament had a set structure in terms of the match fixtures but other than that, people were free to socialise, mingle and catch up with friends. Sixteen matches were played – 20 minutes a match. Eight teams entered and each team could have a maximum of ten members, with 5 allowed on the pitch at any given time. Although 20 minutes may sound short in terms of match length, indoor football is a fast and intense sport. The more matches played, the more the time added up. For instance, the teams who made it to the final had 100 minutes of game time – that’s a lot of running!
In combination with getting some exercise, the teams and spectators also got a taste of some good ol’ competitiveness. After taking part in the Football Fundraiser, a number of participants have decided to continue playing by joining The Recovery Foundation’s weekly match.
“Most of the matches had a decent level of competitiveness but there was one, the semi-final, that got a bit hectic. There were a few red cards. It was quite a tight match and they had to send two team members off.
“There are some guys I have been speaking to that want to join our weekly match. They came to the tournament and now they’re at the games during the week. The one guy came even though he was injured. He hurt himself at the previous week’s match but he wants to make sure he is there every week even if he isn’t playing. At least half of the teams were at the 2017 Football Fundraiser and came all the way from Joburg to participate because they wanted to be involved,” explains Roberto.
In this way, The Recovery Foundation succeeded in achieving one of its primary aims: to allow a platform for people to socialise in a healthy sporting environment. The event team made sure there was no alcohol served at the fundraiser or on the property to ensure the safety of people recovering from addiction. Soccer creates a huge buzz. It’s the biggest sport in South Africa as well as being popular on a global scale – football is a universal language.
Another victory was that there were people who played regardless of whether they knew how to play soccer or not. They were glad to be involved in a sporting activity. For some people, it was brand new and for others, it was a sport they played when they were growing up. The event offered them the opportunity to reconnect with a sport from their childhood while also engaging with team mates and friends.
During the actual matches, the teams pulled together and started huddling, encouraging each other and discussing strategies. Participating in the tournament and the day had quite a profound effect on some of the players:
“Playing on a team, I got to know new people and build and strengthen relationships with my team mates and other players. Although my fitness levels are not great, I got a chance to put them to the test and play every match in the tournament. It was a fantastic to be a part of this event. The team work was something that will stick with me for some time, not only because of my team, but because of everyone at the event who supported a common purpose. It reminds me of the challenges I face in recovery and that I don’t have to overcome them alone,” says Matthew, a player in the tournament.
“The event was well organised. The facility was awesome. The day brought unity amongst recovering addicts and was a really fun day. It was cool to be a part of the event that served a greater purpose and just being able to make a difference in someone’s life and in turn, investing in my own life,” shares Jerome, a member of the Plaashuisen Warriors, The Recovery Foundation’s indoor football team.
The day went smoothly with approximately 120 people having attended The Recovery Foundation Fundraiser. The event raised a grand total of R26 249! The money will be put towards opening a facility for The Recovery Foundation along with helping people to get places in addiction treatment centres. The Fundraiser also opened the doors to a promising opportunity of getting involved with a prominent sports brands. The fundraising results exceeded expectations and similarly, so did the results of the football fixtures.
By the time the semi-finals came around, most of the teams had been knocked out, but hung around to watch the final fixtures. They supported the guys they knew who were playing and the atmosphere heated up. There was less socialising on the sidelines and more focus on the games. The semi-final came down to a tight match between the Plaashuisen Warriors and Atletico Madrid, which saw Atletico win the match 5-4. The Jackie Moon Tropics secured first place in their game against Anonymous 13 – 5, thus taking home the trophy and the Menlyn Mall hampers.
Possibly the greatest result of all was the positive feedback received from spectators and players about the Foundation and its cause:
“I believe the Foundation has a remarkable way of helping people to become unified, driven, enthusiastic and passionate through exercise and taking care of their physical bodies. The principles that I learn to practise by working a programme of recovery, I can also practise while being active and playing sport. I love that when I am living this way and partaking in events like this, I can be part of helping someone who has come from the same place of desperation as me. It is a blessing,” says Matthew.
What’s next for The Recovery Foundation?
After reflecting on the successes of the Football Fundraiser, The Recovery Foundation has committed to making the indoor football tournament an annual event. Next on the sporting and recovery agenda for The Foundation is the Discovery 947 Cycle Challenge taking place in November. The Foundation is looking for people to participate in the 947 preparation in any way they can.
“If you want to cycle for the cause or if want to sponsor us or pay an entry on behalf of someone who wants to cycle, you would greatly help the cause. You can help if you have a bicycle you want to sell to us or lend to the team. You can help if you have a company that you own or work for that wants to sponsor our team. We’re allowing for four sponsors on our kits this year. We have two but we need two more. Sponsors help us to pay for the kit.
“We also need people to man the Foundation’s gazebo at the 947 event and set up the braai. It’s great to have people volunteer their time or donate some food or cold drinks for an event as it helps the day to go that little bit easier. Any bit of help is appreciated,” says Roberto.
How else can I help The Recovery Foundation?
The Recovery Foundation would appreciate any donations of clothing, and food. They are also looking for people to share their skills, for instance, by helping to tutor people who want to finish High School. If you are part of a company that makes printers or other appliances, we would be happy to receive donations of this kind. Another way you can help is to spend time with The Recovery Foundation family, come and braai for the men and women who the Foundation help, and find out more about the people who are inspiring hope in others by finding a new way to live by recovering from addiction.