The battle lines have been drawn between the gangs in Lavender Hill and the Guardians of the National Treasure non-profit organisation (NPO); for the children of the community, who want their recreational spaces back.Ralph Bouwers, founder of the community empowering NPO, has focused on the children of Lavender Hill for years, developing meaningful programmes to keep them off the streets and out of gangs.“In Lavender Hill we’re busy with our transformation project – where we have all our youth-at-risk. We came here with the intention to take our young men-at-risk and plug them into something meaningful,” Bouwers says.Just two years ago the NPO formed its first soccer team and today there are multiple teams in each division from u.8 to premier division, all registered with the South African Football Association (Safa), as well as netball teams, boxers in training, drumline musicians and a ballet group who partake in weekly activities.Now, following the success of the programmes, the NPO and the community are hoping to grab an unmissable opportunity with both hands, for the betterment of the area. Bouwers explains: “We have some seed funding that England has, from a charity called In Place of War, to put a fence around here, and put some office spaces up, a recording studio, an internet café and a restaurant where we can make meals.” This facility will take shape on the open field on Hek Road, opposite Hillwood Primary School, which intersects with the infamous Blode Street where numerous residents have fallen victim to gang violence.It is known as the “battlefield” for the four rival gangs who make their bases in four flats at each corner of the field, with gang members regularly opening fire on each other from opposite sides of the field.Bouwers’ intention is to reclaim the land through the erection of this community facility, which will be managed through a foundation called the Rise Above Foundation. He says: “All funds will come into the community through the foundation.”Laaiqah Khan, wife of Steenberg United Football Club amateur league’s owner, Azad Khan, says the children are unfit because they do not have a facility close by where they can practice. “Most of our players are from Lavender Hill, Seawinds and Montague Village, but our local football association is in Grassy Park and it’s tough to get all our kids there and back – and because of the violence, we don’t want them to walk.” She is confident reclaiming the field will benefit their teams beyond just allowing them to get fit.“Travelling wise, it’s going to benefit us. He (Azad) leaves home at 07:45 on a Saturday morning – up and down to the field about five times to get them all there – and he ends up coming home at 18:30. Financially it’s going to benefit us because the money comes out of the club’s pocket.”She adds: “We want this facility to be available for our kids. They are from Lavender Hill and we had practice at the beginning of the season, but we had to stop before mid-season because of the violence.”The go-ahead for the building of this facility depends on City of Cape Town who, according to Bouwers, are currently in the process of making a decision regarding the usage of the field.“We need to fight and get this land so that these clubs can come in here and work with the children,” he concludes.For more information on the project, visit the Guardians of the National Treasure website: www.guardiansofthenationaltreasure.org.