Homeless team keeps ball rolling

2015-09-15 06:00
The South African homeless street soccer team were greeted at the airport last week on their way to participate in the homeless street soccer world cup in Europe.

The South African homeless street soccer team were greeted at the airport last week on their way to participate in the homeless street soccer world cup in Europe.

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The South African team for the Homeless Street Soccer World Cup departed for the Netherlands amidst great fanfare on Thursday.

The 13th edition of the tournament kicked off in Amsterdam yesterday, with the final whistle blowing on Sunday. More than 500 players from 64 teams are taking part in the event.

The Western Cape ministers of cultural affairs and sport and social development were on hand at the airport to bid farewell to the South African contingent, comprising Luyandah Dangatya, Masizakhe Myataza, Phakama Tiko, Bonke Ntongane, Dillon Fletcher (all from the Western Cape), Langlethu Mbathu (KwaZulu-Natal), Avuyile Pawule and Lisolomzi Matwa (Eastern Cape).

Clifford Martinus, coordinatior of South African homeless street soccer and Oasis Development promoting officer, says various social ills contribute to people becoming homeless and ending up on the streets.

“Oasis is a NGO doing a variety of community initiatives aimed to get youth positively engaged through sport,” he says.

The team, which has been slimmed down to a squad of eight players after initially comprising 40 players, has been in training camp for several weeks in Strandfontein.

“SA homeless street soccer is an official programme in our country and we are responsible for recruiting and preparing a team each year,” says Ricardo de Reuck, head coach of the team.

Along with his assistant Bongani Matiso they thanked Safa and Oasis for supporting the programme.

The programme is officially registered with and funded by the department of social development and incorporates life skills training and HIV/Aids awareness, as well as a training camp in preparation for the world cup.

Martinus says the department of cultural affairs and sport covered a few of the flight tickets and the British Football Association donated funds for the team’s match gear.

Official kitAt the airport the team members were presented with their kit and official caps to be donned at the international sporting event by Anroux Marais, provincial minister of cultural affairs and sport, and Albert Fritz, provincial minister of social development.

Fritz congratulated Oasis on its good work in helping the homeless, as homelessness was more than just a lack of shelter, but also social isolation.

Fritz said: “The department will continue to work with Oasis and organisations like it, especially as we conceptualise programmes and projects aligned to the provincial youth development strategy.”

Marais said she was extremely proud of the team and grateful for the management and guidance provided by the team managers, coaches and support systems.

Marais said: “The team has risen above all odds and faced many challenges but they have now made positive choices, one of which is to focus on street soccer and to be involved in youth development initiatives made available to them.”

When the team returns after the world cup, they will be involved in youth development initiatives such as the Oasis place “reach for your dream” programme, which empowers youngsters and adults to become self-sustainable members of their communities.

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