At the end of September, the u.16 Lavender Hill Football Club team fought their way through a knockout tournament and came out victorious, winning the title of 2019 Knockout Champions.The knockout tournament, organised by the South Peninsula Football Association, sees teams compete in head-to-head soccer matches where the winner of each game moves on to compete against the other teams while the losing team’s journey comes to an end.Mark Nicholson, chairman and co-owner of Lavender Hill Sports Club expressed great pride for the boys in the team; many of whom have faced significant hardships growing up in the gang, drug and crime-riddled community. The team showed their determination however, overcoming the social challenges they face and squaring up to many more experienced teams, with only one season of soccer under their belt as a team.“Getting the boys there took lots of motivation. Our boys from 14-years-old become gangsters and get into drugs, so we have to keep motivating them. I tell these boys that somewhere out there, there is a future waiting for them,” he says.Along with motivation, the teams practice three times a week to get into good shape to compete.Terence Hermanus, president of South Peninsula Football Association, oversees about 1 400 youth competing under the umbrella of the association, with about 75% of their members being children from Lavender Hill.“If they can make this a safe haven for the kids – all of these kids are going to Grassy Park because it’s a safe environment that side – so if this can also be a safe haven, we can also bring league matches into the Lavender Hill area,” Hermanus says.Nicholson adds that the sports club caters to children with various sporting interests. “We have a lot of kids playing football and our club has got 49 junior netball players, and 18 senior netball players with two male netball players. “We do longboarding as well, and we do the Cape Town Carnival. We’re doing everything in Lavender Hill to keep these kids occupied with sports,” he says.“These children are my heartbeat and this is their happiness and we’re very proud of our u.16 boys – we’re planning a hike for them.”The club is currently planning fundraising initiatives for two u.17 soccer players, who will travel to Spain next year to take part in an international tournament.Contact Guardians of the National Treasure on their website: www.guardiansofthenationaltreasure.org for more information.