Get Out and Play brings youth hope

Sport­ing ini­tia­tive gives ru­ral teens a life-chang­ing chance to em­power them­selves

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - ROSS ROCHE rossr@dis­patch.co.za

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.

Pic­ture SUPPLIED

FUN AND GAMES: The Get Out and Play foot­ball team played the KZN Academy side last month.

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