Living a better life through sport

2017-05-10 06:02
Some of the children who joined the newly established cricket team.Photo: Boipelo Mere

Some of the children who joined the newly established cricket team.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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While Nthabiseng Molamu* (10) was bowling a cricket ball with her little brother on her back, her friend Nonzamo Mbixo* (10) hurried past them to quickly buy a beer for her alcoholic father from the nearest spot (a local name used for an informal liquor outlet) before joining her energetic and enthusiastic peers in their cricket match.

The two girls are amongst the 68 children of Lerato Park, an informal settlement in Kimberley. Thami Laven and Patric Funeka wish to involve these children in the newly-established community cricket team that came together on Saturday, 29 April.

The team is divided into two groups – the boys aged 7 to 10 and the girls aged 7 to 13.

The initiative comes as an intervention to fight the escalating social ills in the community and is also aimed at protecting and shifting the children’s focus towards sport.

According to Funeka, substance abuse in the form of glue sniffing has already become prevalent in Lerato Park among children as young as eight years.

That is also, according to the two coaches, due to the cases where children tend to have no extra-mural activities and thus continue to witness their parents’ and neighbours’ unhealthy behaviours.

“The children in our community, who are mostly from poor backgrounds, stick to one routine and tend to rather lose focus than improve themselves, thanks to their parents.

“They go to school during the week and have nothing else to do over the weekends, which is the most crucial time in which they tend to get exposed to crime, alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

“That is precisely why we came up with this sport intervention,” said Funeka.

They partly blame the negative attitude in the community on the lack of development, “as it has led many to believe that people in squatter camps cannot think”.

Laven added that he felt honoured to plough back his skills as a permanent Northern Cape cricket team coach into his community after the realisation that children in his surroundings cannot afford to be part of that team due to the distance.

“We started the team in February with 30 children and it has shown consistent growth ever since.

“The rate and interest in cricket will empower them to know their expectations if ever they decide to pursue it at school level if their parents can support them,” added Laven.

He expressed his concern about some parents who would rather instruct their children to become babysitters or send them to buy alcohol instead of allowing them to participate in sport.

According to Funeka, they are planning to extend into a federation and make it bigger by accommodating other sports like netball and soccer at a later stage, given the fact that there are so many children in their community.

“The only thing we need is sponsorships for sports equipment and sports facilities.

“I wish that the Sol Plaatje Municipality can avail one of the open areas that are reserved for churches, clean it and allow the children in the community to use it wisely as sports facilities.”

The team coaches thanked Northern Cape Cricket for assisting them with mini-cricket equipment since the establishment of the team.

He said the only sports grounds in Lerato Park is overgrown and they will only be able to utilise it after it is cleaned.

“And then we would fight with soccer clubs to utilise the ground, as they claim it as their own.”

Different government departments and non-profit organisations are further encouraged to come on board and assist in coaching the children of Lerato Park, motivating them to grow up to be better persons who see a future ahead.
* Not their real names

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