Sport, jazz empower young minds

2016-07-19 11:56
Pronvincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport deputy director Bennett Bailey (left), with Yes We Can director Rod Solomons, gave the children attending the sports programme at the Oude Molen Eco-Village a talk about the history of the Olympics and demonstrated the lighting of the Olympic torch.

Pronvincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport deputy director Bennett Bailey (left), with Yes We Can director Rod Solomons, gave the children attending the sports programme at the Oude Molen Eco-Village a talk about the history of the Olympics and demonstrated the lighting of the Olympic torch. (Gary van Dyk)

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Sport and culture are combining to change young lives in the Pinelands and Maitland areas with a unique project based at the Oude Molen eco-village.

“It is broadly accepted that sport and culture transcend all boundaries, particularly race, class and religion. These activities have the unique ability to effect change and unite people in an enjoyable, unobtrusive and sustainable manner.

“It also has the unique ability to uplift communities because we are able to keep our youth off the streets as each one has the opportunity of uncovering or developing some or other talent or skill, and we are able to create a sense of pride and belonging.”

That is what Rod Solomons said when he was the head of sport and culture in the Western Cape Government from 1995 to 2005, and now he has started the Yes We Can Sport and Jazz Foundation.

Last week the organisation hosted their first Winter holiday programme for children from surrounding areas and Solomons outlined his aims and motivation for starting the foundation.

“For many of us who grew up during the apartheid years, sport and music – especially jazz – gave us life, hope and inspiration,” he says.

“We want to bring those ideals back into the minds of our young people that they must look beyond the negative influences around them and find their potential.

“In communities all over our country, our people’s patience is drawing to an often disturbing end when it comes to service delivery.

“When our lives have become more filled with the constraints of poverty, it becomes part of our broader social responsibility to expose less fortunate citizens to different lifestyles and thus broaden their horizons.”

Solomons explains that the organisation has already hosted a few jazz concerts at the venue to showcase some of the legends from the area as well as the rising stars on the scene.

“Cape Town is generally regarded as the jazz capital of South Africa and many don’t realise that it played an integral part in the fight against apartheid.

“While the music of people like Robbie Jansen and Basil Coetzee became theme songs of the struggle, it also brought people together.

“Black, white, pink, blue came together at concerts and proved that the government’s separatist ideas and laws did not make sense when they were in harmony through music. It still rings true today and the foundation will provide a platform for the multitude of jazz talent – particularly our young talent – to be showcased to a broader audience and open opportunities for them to progress in that and related fields.”

When it comes to the sport side of things, the foundation wants to set up a strikers’ academy or sport finishing school.

“South Africa has a dearth of talented and quality football strikers,” continues Solomons.

“Our intention is to have South Africa’s first football strikers’ finishing school/academy to harness the skill of footballers (young and established) in the striking (goal scoring) department.

“We will establish a dedicated institution that can shape the skill of a selected group of strikers using applied scientific interventions to improve the skill levels. We will make use of a pool of experienced strikers who have proven themselves at the highest level, to become mentors/trainers to these strikers.”
Solomons is hoping that the foundation will make a contribution that changes a young life.

“We want our children to see that there is more to life than the negativity that so often surrounds them.

“This foundation is about giving opportunities to all and making everyone feel that they have a place under the African sun, can have fun, and once developed, have a contribution to make in society.”

For more information about the foundation, contact Solomons on 082 511 2010 or go to their website www.yeswecan.com.

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