Grooming young soccer talent

The Guardians of the National Treasure, a non-profit organisation in Lavender Hill, has teamed up with Rygersdal Football Club to groom talent from Lavender Hill through soccer.
The Guardians of the National Treasure, a non-profit organisation in Lavender Hill, has teamed up with Rygersdal Football Club to groom talent from Lavender Hill through soccer.

The Guardians of the National Treasure, a non-profit organisation (NPO) in Lavender Hill, has teamed up with Rygersdal Football Club from Rondebosch to produce and groom soccer stars from Lavender Hill.

The NPO has been running several projects, under the “I Love Lavender Hill” banner, in the community to bring back hope and a sense of selfworth.

The NPO and Rygersdal Football Club began with a visit to Lavender Hill on Sunday 30 July. Rygersdal executive committee and selected club members were joined by players and management of the first-team, alongside Mayco member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith, and Mayco member for assets and facilities management Stuart Diamond.

Rygersdal coaches and players will then host two training camps at the club’s own field for u.12 and u.14 players from Lavender Hill.

“The two full Sunday sessions will be aimed at identifying talent from within Lavender Hill and a group of selected players will be invited to join Rygersdal Football Club for the 2018 season on a specially created transformation programme. These players will be mentored by existing first-team players, committee and club members, through their time at the club, and will receive homework supervision; the I Love Lavender Hill project will ensure their safe travels to and from the training ground three days a week including matchday transport once a week,” says Rygersdal FC chairman Justin Asher.

Over the past couple of years, Rygersdal Football Club’s first team have been made up mostly of an incredibly talented and dedicated group of players from the Steenberg and Lavender Hill area; which in turn has seen a rise in members from these or similar areas.

“One of the attractions of playing for Rygersdal’s first team is the club’s hunger to compete at the highest amateur level along with our desire to win trophies; thus, providing a platform for younger players from these (and other) areas to promote themselves into the professional ranks as well as for those more established ones to continue playing in the winter in an extremely competitive environment,” he says.

Asher says this is an extremely exciting partnership for Rygersdal Football Club – not only will it increase the strength of their junior teams and create strong competition amongst players but it will also provide a springboard for these players to release themselves from their gang-ridden areas.

“At the same time, it exposes our other members to those who live within the daily reality of gang violence.

“By doing this, we hope to create leaders and stars of the future as we aim to tackle the hurdles these kids face in their everyday lives,” concludes Asher.

Ralph Bouwers, the visionary behind I Love Lavender Hill projects, says: “Sport and especially football has always been at the heart of Lavender Hill and the absence therefore contributed to an unhealthy ­society.

“The players spent time with the youngsters and instant bonds formed because they are perfectly similar in background, daily struggles and exactly the same talent .”

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