Born in Nambia, GotSoccer founder and CEO, Gavin Owen-Thomas was raised in East London, South Africa. He developed a passion for soccer at an early age and actually formed his own club - the Kroonstad Railway Football Club - when he was just 13-years-old.
In 1977, Gavin left South Africa moving first to England and then to the USA, working as both a journalist and coach before he started GotSoccer in 1996.
A few years ago Gavin returned to South Africa and whilst there was asked to meet with a man and woman, who persuaded him to visit an academy they had created in a rural area close to the bush. During the tour of the academy, Gavin immediately saw the same drive and passion that had inspired him create the Kroonstad Football Team, and decided to help fund the academy.
Founded by Steve Haupt and Sharleen Coetzee Berea-Albion Football Development (BAFD) is a project to develop the soccer skills of the disadvantaged youth that are the lifeblood of soccer in South Africa. Located just outside of Pretoria, one of the main aims of BAFD academy is to develop players so they can go on and play at a professional level. However, the rising costs of food, the economic strains and the difficulties of space and agriculture in South Africa make it a real struggle for BAFD to achieve their aims. The solution of the Pods Project helps tackle these issues - providing healthy and sustainable food for years to come - and removes one more obstacle in the way of young South African players achieving their dreams.
GotSoccer CEO Gavin Owen-Thomas actually discovered the pods by chance when he noticed futuristic looking pods protruding over the fence of a neighbour's garden. Fascinated by these strange objects Gavin asked his neighbour about the pods, who told him about Tracey Westbrook and Susan King, co-owners of Atlantic Beach Urban Farms, a commercial aeroponic farm in Jacksonville, the same city that GotSoccer and Gavin are based.
Intrigued by the pods and inspired by their potential, Gavin met with Tracey at Atlantic Beach Urban Farms. During the visit Gavin cast his mind back to his trip to the BAFD academy in South Africa, and how BAFD founders, Steve Haupt and Sharleen Coetzee, had shown him a small garden they were developing, hoping to grow a few vegetables and reduce the grocery bill for the students. Gavin imagined a wonderful project - sending Aeroponic Pods to South Africa to help grow healthy and sustainable food - and the first seed of our Back To Our Roots Pod Project was sown.
Atlantic Beach Urban Farms introduced GotSoccer to the founders of AERO Development Corp, the company that manufactures the aeroponic pods, and GotSoccer are now a part of a wonderful team ready to ship the pods to South Africa.