One on one with Richmond soccer club owner

2017-03-29 06:03

A FEW years ago Richmond was marred by political violence, however, in recent years sport, especially soccer, has become the unifying tool there.

A sport official and club owner in the area, Dwayne Ragavaloo, son of the retired Richmond mayor, Andrew Ragavaloo, is now appealing for business people to come on board and support sport.

Maritzburg Echo sports contributor, Jerry Barnes, chatted to him.

JB: Isn’t it is encouraging to see that soccer is still being played and sport is in fact alive in the Richmond area.

DR: Yes, this area came from under a dark cloud of political violence and it’s encouraging that everybody wants to be involved in sport. Our children and the youth can now remain focused on a healthy lifestyle by taking part in sport.

JB: You also own a soccer team and when was it formed?

DR: We first started in 1996 as Richpool Rovers and later renamed the team Morefire FC in 2016. We are going to be known this year as Richmond FC.

JB: What made you start a soccer team?

DR: Soccer is one of my passions as I love to uplift the youth and community. I have always been involved in soccer, as a player for Cramford United and later as an organiser for Salga teams. My motivation is to keep the youth of Richmond occupied and away from drugs and alcohol. My inspiration is to work with school children and youth out of school, so my team consists mainly of school players.

JB: How did you start a soccer side?

DR: At first I tried to motivate my pupils to commit themselves to social recreational matches. With the help of my wife, Vanitha Ragavaloo, we took teams to tournaments and encouraged participation. The coach Siphamandla Zaca assisted in recruiting players.

JB: Where is your team currently playing?

DR: We are in the SAB League under Safa and are third in the league.

JB: Do most of your players come from around Richmond?

DR: Yes mostly, we have players from Simozomeni, Gengeshe, Phatheni, Magoda, Indaleni and Richmond CBD.

JB: Richmond was known for its political violence, so how did you manage to convince people to forget about the past, unite and return to sport?

DR: My father, Andrew Ragavaloo, always used sport and religion as a unifying factor. During peak violent times, in 1997, we arranged a soccer tournament between all wards. The former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker was guest of honour. Later, I helped to organise the annual mayoral cup which brought people together. I was fortunate that I knew youths from all areas, who were keen to assist.

JB: It must be difficult to run a soccer team using your own money so how do you sustain the team and do you have sponsorship?

DR: In the past, even during the violence, some businesses sponsored kits and assisted with trophies. These people included Danny McAlphine, Kim Robertson, Stuart McKenzie, Vedanth Armrithlall, Sindhu Bhogal and others, who wish to remain anonymous. Currently, the dynamics have changed in Richmond with new business people who are not keen to support us. We also require the municipality to become a part of the process. Thus far, the municipality has not responded to requests. My plea is that former sponsors and new sponsors respond positively to implement their social responsibilities. Together we can do it.

JB: By keeping the youth on the field you also keep them away from social ills and illegal activities.

DR: Yes, because youngsters are easily lured to social ills. We require solid sponsorship to continue the motivation and incentive to keep our youth fit and to be worthwhile members of society. This is where I believe the municipality can play a crucial role.

JB: Why do you find it difficult to attract sponsors?

DR: Unfortunately, business people show little interest in sponsorship as they feel they do not get sufficient mileage. I am attempting to maximise sponsorship advertising by using logos on equipment and even have banners and signage displayed. I need to make business people aware of the tax incentives. Business people and service providers should demonstrate better social responsibility to the community.

JB: I wish you all the best in your project of bringing the community together and children to the sports fields.

DR: Thank you, and a special thank you to Echomanagement for allowing us to spread the message.

In the past, even during the violence, some businesses sponsored kits and assisted with trophies. These people included Danny McAlphine, Kim Robertson, Stuart McKenzie, Vedanth Armrithlall, Sindhu Bhogal and others, who wish to remain anonymous

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