Get Out and Play brings youth hope
Sporting initiative gives rural teens a life-changing chance to empower themselves
The Get Out and Play initiative to make sport more widely available to disadvantaged youth has had a momentous year.
The programme set up in Ntlavukazi Village, in Lusikisiki’s Ward 24 maximises the power of sport to change young lives and disadvantaged communities.
“I thought I should utilise my experience, having worked in the UK in grass roots development,” Get Out and Play coordinator and founder Marks Njovane, said.
“Get Out and Play has been refined and tested since its inception in 2014,” he said.
“The organisation has a network of rural-based projects to deliver sport and other activities on their doorstep. “
One of the highlights this year was when youngsters from Ntlavukazi Village showcased their skills against one of the top soccer academies in the country, the KwaZulu-Natal Academy in Durban.
“Jubilation was visible on the boys’ faces and their parents when I broke the news about the challenge match,” said Njobvane.
“On match day, the boys did not disappoint, they gave it everything.
“Even though they lost 6-1 against a very good elite side, I am very proud with the way they performed,” he added.
“But playing against the elite academy has opened doors for our boys and three of them might get a chance to train with KZN Academy; they were resolute and refused to let their background to be a determinant and set limits for them.
“The relationship that we have with the academy now going forward, is going to assist us in terms of training our technical stuff , something that we have been trying for the last four years with our own Eastern Cape Academy of sport.”
Every year the Get Out and Play initiative hosts a sports festival where children under 13 years old participate in football, netball, volleyball and indigenous games.
This year they celebrated their fourth birthday in July with a festival, where kids from 16 villages turned out on the day.
“It's growing every year,” saidNjovane. “The programme has had a positive impact on the local school and on communities and since its inception more so children and girls in particular. are participating in various sport disciplines.
“There has been a significant decrease in the incidents of juvenile crime in the area, teenage pregnancy as well as the number of children dropping out from school has shown a decline.”
There have been some success stories emanating from the programme. Among them, includes seven of the U15 girls being selected to participate in the Rural Sport National Championship in Polokwane last year.
Three boys who were part of the programme secured an opportunity to try their luck with elite football clubs across the country. Vuyisani Galada, a product of this programme, was selected to represent Eastern Cape at a volleyball tournament in Cape Town.
“It is no doubt that with sponsors and full support from all the relevant structures we could do more,” said Njovane.
“Having said that, I would like to thank former OR Tambo Dsrac senior manager Mr Mike Sakhiwo Sodo for supporting this when it was only just a vision.
“I would aslo like to extend gratitude to Mzo Qotoyi [Sports Council Chair, OR Tambo], Mrs Nocawe Makiwane [CEO] of Mfolozi Group and her organisation, we are really looking forward to years of development with them.
“Also the Ingquza Hill Local Municipality for the transport, Babalwa [Manager at Spar Lusikisiki] for ensuring that our boys do not play on empty stomachs and, last but not least, Alfred Nzo community radio, Inkonjane community radio and Vuyisa Kulase of UCR community radio.
FUN AND GAMES: The Get Out and Play football team played the KZN Academy side last month.