Port Elizabeth: Industry bosses may curse the
FIFA World Cup as a quadrennial productivity sapper but there
is another school of thought which sniffed an opportunity in
this month-long soccermania to strengthen bond with the
While most companies grapple with absenteeism and a
sudden deluge of sick leave applications, the situation has
been refreshingly different at Volkswagen`s South African
chapter with the automobile manufacturer distributing free
tickets among employees to watch matches in Port Elizabeth and
Killing two birds with the same stone, the VW management
linked it to socially relevant issues, the upshot being 50
employees who volunteered for HIV/AIDS tests were rewarded
with tickets for matches in Johannesburg.
The company also encouraged potential Nostradamuses,
giving away 30 tickets in Johannesburg to whoever correctly
predicted the outcome of the opening game between South Africa
They, however, reserved the bulk of tickets for employees
of its Port Elizabeth plant.
In all 1470 tickets were distributed among its
Uitenhage-based employees, 600 alone for Saturday`s third
place playoff between Germany and Paraguay.
Dr Carsten Krebs, VW-Coordinator Soccer World Cup 2010,
explained the ideas behind distributing the tickets to the
"We wanted to motivate the employees, giving them an
incentive linked to performance and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
After all, it was a rare chance to be part of this lifetime
soccer event in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. We wanted to
reduce absenteeism and strengthen the relationship in the
company," he said.
And the response has been heart-warming, he said.
"The employees were overwhelmed. There was high
participation rate and little absenteeism and most
importantly, we have happy staff," he added.
Interestingly, sports has been at the centre of VW
corporate social investment in South Africa.
In 2008, they launched `A Chance to Play` project,
reaching out to 30,000 children since then, providing them
regular coaching clinics in sports like soccer, rugby and
cricket besides offering life skill training, touching on
issues like HIV/AIDS.
VW South Africa also runs an educational `Soccer Bus`
project with coaches reaching schools and training boys and
girls, besides imparting HIV/AIDS education.
In fact, some 5.5 million Rand of VW South Africa`s
community budget is invested in sports and the company
sponsors local football PSL football club `Moroka Swallows`.