CAN you tell me what links Jurgen Klopp, a man from Croydon, and ground-breaking social change on the outskirts of Cape Town?
If you’re blurting the words Hout Bay United, then congratulations – I want you in my pub quiz team. And if you’ve not heard of them, you should have.
They aren’t an obvious choice for the foreign fan, operating in the humble third tier of South African football, resting at ninth in the table at the time of writing, and residing in Hout Bay, an area only 1/15th the size of Klopp’s adopted city of Liverpool.
The club was formed in 2014, starting with some jumpers for goalposts and the passion and energy of Croydon-based founder and club owner Jeremy Olsen.
“I came over on honeymoon, loved the country and got an opportunity to move over about six months later,” says Olsen.
“The project evolved from a social game between my staff, friends and kids who lived around the field. There was an amazing energy where everyone was equal, and the kids were talented. We began to understand the power we had as mentors. That’s when we looked to start the team.”
So how on earth did Jurgen Klopp become a follower of such an obscure team around 14 000km away from his boys in red?
Well, Hout Bay United are far more than a football club as Olsen explains.
“Our aim is to unite the communities of Hout Bay, uplift youth through mentorship and bring pride to Hout Bay through successful football, successful programmes and developing great people.”
Despite three decades passing since the end of the apartheid system in the country, many areas in South Africa remain divided along racial lines. Black and white inhabitants live together yet remain deeply divided economically.
Hout Bay is a typical example of this, made up of predominantly white households of middle to high income in the “Valley”, with a majority black population in the settlement of Imizamo Yethu, where day-to-day life can be a struggle.
Hout Bay United are doing their best to force progressive social change, bringing people of all backgrounds together, not just to win football matches, but to better their community.
They are host to around 500 players across all age groups, of all races and genders, and who are all exclusively from Hout Bay. The first team even boasts a 100% employment rate!
“We have a holistic philosophy and have put in place a player development pathway which looks to uplift off the pitch, but in doing so improve performance on the pitch,” says Olsen.
This community involvement has led to Hout Bay experiencing up to an 80% drop in the crime rate on the night of home fixtures, according to official stats from the local police commissioner.
After making such an impact on their community in their infant years, it comes as no surprise that the club caught the eye of one of the biggest managers in world football. But just how did Jurgen Klopp become affiliated with Hout Bay United?
“Jurgen came over in November 2017 and put on a great private event at the local market to 2000 or so people, chatting about his career in a really informal setting to raise funds. We have been in contact ever since and he’s continued to help us regularly,” Olsen tells us.
In an effort to tell the story of the club more effectively, Hout Bay United have recently partnered with digital platform provider PT SportSuite with the aim of taking their media output to the next level. The partnership will allow Hout Bay United to increase the amount of digital content they capture, store, manage and publish to their fans, while innovative technology – including a platform for fans to share their own multimedia, and an augmented reality scanning tool – will allow the club and its supporters to interact in new and exciting ways, providing more value for the community of Hout Bay.PT SportSuite CEO Richard Cheary, a passionate Liverpool fan, is delighted to be working with the club by providing a digital platform that will allow HBUFC to operate like a modern media house.
“Hout Bay have a very unique story within the football world and one which can help to inspire other clubs across football wanting to make a difference in their communities.
“We are excited to work with Jeremy and the team by bringing them the platform solutions that will allow them to build a digital community around the club. Our digital systems will ensure they can spend less time in the office and more time on the field doing what they do best with these young people and adults.”Olsen says his long-term goals for Hout Bay go way beyond just football and he hopes to continue to make positive changes to people’s lives.
“Our partnership with PT SportSuite means we’ll have the tools to start managing our digital media in line with professional sporting organisations. Hopefully this journey can take the amazing story of this club and tell it through the eyes of all the different characters who make up the Hout Bay United Football Community.“It’s a worthy story and a worthwhile cause that hopefully more and more people can now be exposed to it.”
We may even see Olsen’s social model implemented closer to home.
“If we reach our goals and we can build a transferable model then it would be amazing to try and implement similar programmes in other parts of the world for sure,” he says.
Klopp’s side may be showcasing a massive points lead in the Premier League, but Olsen’s Hout Bay United are achieving something much bigger than a title win.For more information on Hout Bay United, click here: https://ptsportsuite.com/our-partners/