Khayelitsha’s little sport stars give back

2015-07-18 21:38

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Cape Town - “We do not come from the trees. These are our parents.”
 
So says 22-year-old Aviwe Apolisi, who coaches the young boys at Connect Academy’s rugby team in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
 
Aviwe was speaking to News24 as Connect’s kids, who hail mainly from the township, handed out blankets for Mandela Day to the elderly, who had gathered on a patch of grass between four green containers.
 
“We want to give back to our community,” Aviwe says. He points to the gathered gogos and grandads, saying “without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
 
About 130 blankets had been gathered and given to the elderly who had come from all over Khayelitsha, some in taxis, others in bakkies, and many others still who had simply walked.
 
The academy’s young players don’t have much themselves and for some, the meals they receive at their sports practice sessions are the only ones they’ll get that day.
 
Rugby team captain, Sindiswa Dekeda, says he’s been playing since June last year and hopes to one day play for the Springboks.
 
Dekeda says his skinny frame matters little because “if you play by the rules, you won’t feel a thing.”
 
Another of Connect’s stars is Litha Dyalvane, a 14-year-old who is on the rugby team but also a chess champion.
 
Litha says he loves the strategy and planning needed in chess. He won the SA Schools individual championship for under-15s.
 
But the boys aren’t the only ones getting down in the ruck at Connect. Abenathi Ntelezi, 18, is going to play for the Western Province under-21 touch rugby team. Initially, Abenathi says her mother and friends weren’t too happy when she told them she would be playing the sport.
 
“My mom wanted me to stop but now she can see…” she trails off, letting her smile say the rest.
 
Tragedy hit when her father died in June last year while she was writing exams.
 
But the teenager didn’t let it hold her back and after passing matric she decided to take a gap year. She knows that if her sport-loving dad saw her now, he’d be happy.
 
“I’m doing this for my dad. I want to make him proud.”
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