Unleashing the Potential: How sports inspire active male caregivers in the BaBonise Campaign.

Unleashing the Potential: How sports inspire active male caregivers in the BaBonise Campaign.

20 Jun 2023


In a world divided by religion, politics, race, gender, and diverse backgrounds, it is astonishing how a shared passion for a particular sport can captivate and unite people toward a common purpose. Recognizing this unifying power, the DO MORE FOUNDATION, founded by RCL FOODS, launched the BaBonise campaign during the Selati Cup Soccer Tournament in Mpumalanga's Nkomazi Municipality. This thought-provoking initiative aimed to raise awareness about the vital role of fathers and male caregivers in children's lives, dispelling the misconception that child-rearing is solely "women's work", thereby supporting women in communities and influencing Gender Based Violence. By leveraging the unparalleled engagement of sports, the BaBonise campaign sought to foster positive change and highlight the transformative impact of involved male role models.

The Power of Sports as a Catalyst for Social Unity.

Sport holds a profound influence on the lives of countless individuals worldwide, particularly men. Passionate sports fans invest their emotions and behaviours in support of their favourite teams, engaging in activities such as purchasing merchandise, attending games, and even friendly wagers with loved ones. This psychological engagement offers a perfect opportunity to raise awareness about social issues. Understanding this, the DO MORE FOUNDATION strategically harnessed the Selati Cup as a platform to drive the BaBonise campaign, recognising the profound influence sports have in capturing public attention and encouraging active participation in social causes.

Sports as a Vehicle for Social Change in South Africa. South Africa has witnessed the transformative power of sports in raising awareness about critical issues through initiatives led by non-profit organisations and the government. Notably, during a time of heightened xenophobic attacks in 2008, Sisonke Gender Justice organised a friendly soccer match aimed at promoting social unity between local and foreign communities. This event, attended by hundreds, effectively bridged divides, and conveyed messages of peace through music and poetry. Inspired by these past successes, the BaBonise campaign similarly utilised the popularity of soccer to drive its message, aiming to empower men to become strong male role models, actively participate in their children's lives and support women.

BaBonise: Empowering Men to Shape Brighter Futures.

The translation from isiZulu means "Show Them" in English, BaBonise focuses on showcasing remarkable soccer skills as a metaphor for becoming strong male role models for children. These skills encompass play, protection, love, and positive influence in children's lives. Aligned with the Foundation's "Leave No Young Children Behind" initiative taking place in Mpumulanga, BaBonise addresses the alarming statistics that reveal 60% of children in South Africa grow up without fathers. By emphasising the vital impact of involved male figures, BaBonise advocates for empowering men to embrace their role and contribute to children's overall well-being, education, and emotional development.

The Profound Impact of Involved Fathers and Male Role Models.

Research unequivocally demonstrates the profound effects of fathers and positive male role models on children's lives - involvement and not necessarily living in the same household. Heartlines' Formative Research on Fatherhood in South Africa highlights the invaluable influence of father figures on children's well-being, including school performance, social competence, and emotional regulation. Conversely, children without a father figure face increased risk of mental illness, teenage pregnancy, poor academic outcomes, and becoming victims or perpetrators of violence as adults. BaBonise leverages the passionate soccer audience, encouraging them to become ambassadors for change and empower men to embrace their critical role in shaping the next generation.

Driving Change Through Engaging Strategies.

To achieve the campaign's objectives, BaBonise employed various strategies to engage players, spectators, and the public. Social media posts, radio interviews featuring influential community figures, and press releases conveyed research supported messages regarding the profound importance of a father's involvement from the start of a child's life. Over 2,500 men signed the online and physical pledge committing to building strong foundations for the next generation, ensuring the availability of positive male role models, safety, and ample opportunities for learning through play. The campaign also featured interactive activities, such as the use of giant DO MORE beach balls used during the final match, symbolising the joy of play and bonding.

Inspiring Change in the Nkomazi Municipality.

The BaBonise campaign evoked enthusiasm and inspiration among the citizens of the Nkomazi Municipality. Mayor Phindile Magagula emphasised the active involvement of fathers in their children's lives, highlighting its importance for children's mental development and its potential to address high rates of gender-based violence. “The State of the World's Fathers Report” further supports this notion, indicating that active fatherhood not only eases the burden of care on mothers but also contributes to violence-free households. Spectators expressed their belief that men could play a crucial role in guiding children away from negative influences and toward sports, fostering a positive focus and preventing drug abuse.

Unleashing the Power of BaBonise for Lasting Change.

The BaBonise campaign left an indelible mark on the people of Nkomazi, inspiring them to be intentional in their involvement in children's lives. By promoting active male role models and emphasising the importance of play, BaBonise sought to impact players and spectators. This powerful initiative also yielded lasting memories due to its engaging and interactive nature, ensuring that whenever participants reminisce about the Selati Cup 2023, they will remember the transformative impact of the BaBonise campaign. While the campaign's initial focus was on the tournament, the mission of BaBonise must extend beyond these occasions to become an integral part of our daily values.

The BaBonise campaign serves as a powerful example of leveraging sports as a vehicle for social change. By uniting individuals through their shared passion for soccer, the campaign addressed the critical issue of absent fathers and male caregivers, empowering men to become positive influences in children's lives. The initiative's strategies, coupled with scientific evidence, engaged participants at all levels, highlighting the transformative impact of involved male role models. Through BaBonise, the DO MORE FOUNDATION and its partners have created a lasting legacy, ensuring that the importance of fathers and male caregivers resonates within communities, fostering gender equality and brighter futures for South Africa's children.