Social media is replete with videos of athletes and ordinary people resorting to extraordinarily innovative ways to stay on top of their game during lockdown.
Six Cape Town City players did just that, but rather than beating the lamp and coffee table for a shot at the couch or practising their defensive drills on the laundry basket, they lined up their laptops and cell phones for a financial-fitness session.
Since it signed a sponsorship deal with the club, just over a year ago, financial services provider DirectAxis had been eager to include the players in its financial education courses, which it presents to communities nationally through The Clothing Bank as well as peer-education facilitator Gold Youth.
It’s something that Cape Town City chairman John Comitis was keen to support.
‘DirectAxis has embarked on uplifting the financial knowledge of players so they can take care of the money they get and be able to finish their careers and have something to show for it. There are too many cases of players, at the end of their careers, ending up with nothing.’
But as every football coach, and now Me and My Money trainer Nicky Edwards, will attest, sometimes a referee’s call can upset even the best-laid plans. In this case the referee was the National Command Council and the call was a national lockdown.
Even as Nicky, The Clothing Bank branch manager and business mentor, prepared herself to step into Jan Olde Riekerink’s boots, she was faced with having to present the course virtually instead of personally.
‘Ultimately the lockdown proved to be more of an opportunity than a hinderance,’ explains Shafeeqah Isaacs, head of financial education at DirectAxis.
‘We’d been looking for ways to expand our successful community financial education programmes to reach more people and presenting these online with community partners and data providers was a consideration. Cape Town City was a good way to trial the concept, particularly as the players already had the technology platforms.’
Nicky says that the Me and My Money course is very interactive, and she was concerned that participants may not be as engaged on Zoom. It turned out not to be a problem.
‘We did have a little finger trouble at the start. Things like background noise because mics weren’t muted when people had finished talking. Or when the opposite happened, and someone was passionately telling us about their experience with money while on mute. But we soon got used to the online format.’
The Me and My Money course uses case studies, practical examples, the participants’ own experiences and exercises to contextualise how many South Africans struggle to manage money. They then learn about budgeting, understand instalment sales and compound interest, managing debt responsibly and saving.
‘The course engages people both logically and emotionally and while it contains general lessons about money and managing it very much aims to make these relevant to the participants’ personal circumstances. It was amazing how engaged the players were, despite the course being delivered digitally. Perhaps, particularly for younger people, it’s easier to share via a screen than face to face.’
It’s an experience that’s borne out by the participants.
For Marc Anderson some of the lessons were straight from goalkeeping 101 – learning from past mistakes and making better decisions in future.
‘I was focused on the wrong things and am looking at my money with new insight. I will now prioritise payments and budgeting.’
Midfielder Thabo Nodada learned about the importance of paying attention to the terms and conditions and how compound interest can escalate debts over time.
Peter Leeuwenburg commented: ‘This course was an eye-opener. I spend too much money on daily small expenses that I could have saved over time.’
John Comitis says it’s a first step towards bigger things: ‘We’re known as a club that’s committed to our communities through initiatives such as Dreamclub 100. Enabling players to better manage their financial affairs will later grow into a broader community programme that addresses an urgent need.’
Already DirectAxis is planning an extended financial education social media campaign that will run on Cape Town City’s Facebook page.
‘We’re really excited that this first foray into presenting financial education digitally worked so well. We’re super keen to build on this through our other courses so we can reach more people, more effectively,’ says Shafeeqah.
Photo: Cape Town City players turned to technology to learn some new skills during lockdown.
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