Usually, when good is done, the bad follows and at times, it’s the other way around. Chevrolet FC (the Football related CSR wing of Chevrolet) had been promoting their ‘power of play’ message for quite some time now. From donating indestructible balls to building pitches in impoverished areas in order to create a safe playing environment for children – Chevrolet had been going strong.
But after completing a similar recent project in the Mabu-a-tlou Primary School in Hammanskraal, South Africa, genuine questions were raised regarding the development of the field. The pitch had no grass bringing in widespread demands from the public on social media as to why couldn’t Chevrolet build a European standard pitch? Where was the grass?
@Gabrieljazzy it's no euro standard..South Africa has many world class football pitches. I'm sure they will otherwise we will just SMDH
— Nobesuthu Cele (@ma_Ndosi) September 18, 2014
@ma_Ndosi @ChevroletFC @Katle_SA @PikkieGreeff. OoPs.."Epic FAIL" 4 chevrolet fc grassless soccer field…job 1/2 done
— shazz (@snazzysha) September 19, 2014
Soo where is the grass? “@ChevroletFC: This brand new soccer field in South Africa will bring play and empowerment pic.twitter.com/vfnJYTWUdT”
— Kenny Seoketsa (@canarygs) September 27, 2014
@ChevroletFC You cheap bastards! No grass? City and the UAE put up real pitches around the globe.
— Moritz Reiter (@europamo) September 27, 2014
The brand’s intentions were suspected. The initiative aimed at empowering disadvantaged children; rather it seemed like these children were taken advantage of.
Was Chevrolet’s no-grass pitch an example of bad relief?
Not really. Chevrolet saw this coming. The idea of creating a sand pitch over a grass field came from their development partners (Dreamfields Project) who understood the basic necessity.
John Perlman, founder of the Project, while speaking to Daily Vox, emphasised on the importance of water for the community based in Hammanskraal. Hence, for this very reason, a sand football pitch was created which would be maintainable in the long run.
“This community barely has enough water to drink. You can’t make a commitment to put a grass field in if you don’t know how you’re going to water it,” Perlman said.
“With a grass pitch, they would need to re-fertilise it, aerate the fields and put new topsoil on. It could cost between R40,000 to R50,000 a year,” he added.
The school and the community will maintain the field after the first three months. This will include brushing the surface, re-marking the lines, and raking the field to maintain a level pitch. The very pitch that was invaded by weeds and thorns and had broken bottles over the field, a few months ago.
The outburst of these “desktop activists” is a reminder of how vital and significant information sharing is. Their criticisms of the efforts of Chevrolet FC, who have involved themselves in the betterment of the game all across the globe, only belittles them.