‘Sport, taverns and church’: Leisure engagement amongst the youth in rural communities in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

  • Lisa Wegner
  • Wilson Majee


Leisure programmes are important in rural communities where resources are typically limited. Leisure forms a significant developmental context for youth, and can promote engagement in positive behaviour. However, little is known about the situation of the youth living in rural communities in South Africa, as previous research has focused on youths in urban areas and those attending school. It is important to understand how the youth engage in leisure in order to develop relevant programmes. This exploratory study therefore explored the perceptions and experiences of youths living in rural communities in South Africa regarding the enablers and barriers of leisure engagement. Participants (n = 99) included 47 men and 52 women aged 18 to 35 years residing in seven rural communities in the Eastern Cape. Eight focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with the participants. Based on the themes which emerged from the FGDs, leisure enablers included practical solutions such as community centres and skills development programmes to nurture talent. Barriers comprised inter-generational poverty, racial tension, and limited leisure resources due to the communities’ rural locations. The challenges restricted young people’s choices and opportunities to engage in leisure activities, contributed to a sense of hopelessness, and negatively affected their feelings of well-being. A key recommendation is that youth and adults work collaboratively as part of a multi-systemic approach to develop programmes in rural areas, which include positive, constructive leisure activities that develop skills and nurture talent.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939