Sporting Chance has officially kicked off its eight-week Sportsmans Warehouse Street Soccer tournament for the children of Ocean View.
The tournament is for children from the age groups u.10 to u.12 and will run until Friday 22 November when the final play-offs will take place to find the ultimate winners.
Taking place behind the Ocean View Public Library, the soccer tournament kicked off last week, Friday 4 October, with an estimated 120 children taking part in the sporting action.
Sporting Chance’s coordinator for Ocean View, Shirley Botes, has organised the event in the infamous gang warzone, where many shootouts have taken place, to bring awareness to the problem faced in the community.
“How better to bring in a programme like this? There can’t be shootings happening with four courts full of kids, with people supporting and a DJ playing there,” she says, adding that she believes the time and location of the games will serve the goal she aims to achieve.
“Even in a community, with the things that are happening here, still positive things can take place and you can still uplift the kids. Our kids need this. It’s now festive season, parents start drinking, and they’re neglecting their kids, so this is the exact time that I want to have something like this – so parents can come and support rather and we can keep the children busy.”
The tournament will be watched over by the local neighbourhood watch groups; and Sgt Leon Fortuin, spokesperson for Ocean View police, has also said they would like to support the initiative by sending out police to the games on days when they have staff available.
“This is a good initiative. It is through sport that we can become unified as a nation. She is giving the kids something encouraging to do, where there may not be many opportunities in the community. If we don’t grab the youth while we are still young, the gangsters are going to grab them.
“We are going to ensure that the elements that we don’t want there, will not be there. We will endeavour to fight the root causes of crime and make sure that this tournament is a great success,” said Fortuin.
Botes has also made provisions for residents by providing empowerment opportunities; allowing 20 parents and residents to work as coaches for the teams, for a stipend.
Sportmans Warehouse and Sporting Chance have organised uniforms and medals for the games, but Botes hopes the community will be willing to help with other items that are needed to make the tournament a success.
“We need snacks: fruit, sandwiches, juice, chips and Bompies (frozen juice lollies),” she says.
Without donations, Botes will need to provide the snacks for each Friday out of her own pocket.
She hopes the community can contribute time, money and snacks for the success and upliftment of Ocean View’s children.