School soc­cer sus­pended in cri­sis

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SOYISO MALITI

MORE than 600 high school soc­cer play­ers in Mitchells Plain have been left high and dry as their league re­mains tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended for the se­cond week­end due to the wa­ter cri­sis.

This comes as City of Cape Town of­fi­cials con­tinue to “ig­nore” a cost-free so­lu­tion by soc­cer ad­min­is­tra­tors keen to keep the eight pitches at Rock­lands sports com­plex’s fields wa­tered.

The fields have been closed since June due to the drought, which forced the league to move some of its games as far as Cloetesville and Idas Val­ley in Stel­len­bosch last sea­son.

Shamiel Kol­bee, chair­per­son of Africa Youth Events, an ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Mr Price Foun­da­tion High Schools League, said a pump was stolen from the fields 15 years ago.

The in­ci­dent re­sulted in the City cut­ting the wa­ter from the storm wa­ter chan­nel and con­nect­ing the fields to mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter.

“So all those years the fields had to be ser­viced by mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter, and when the drought came the first thing the City did was to cut the wa­ter be­cause eight soc­cer fields takes a lot of wa­ter to main­tain.”

Kol­bee said: “With the drought, ob­vi­ously there is no soc­cer league, but we must find a way to get those fields go­ing be­cause we’ve got 16 schools who won’t be play­ing.”

“See­ing the empty fields that are usu­ally abuzz with chil­dren on a Satur­day, while the crime in­creases, makes me sick.”

There are min­utes show­ing that the City of­fi­cials met with the soc­cer ad­min­is­tra­tors on Jan­uary 15 at the Rock­lands sports fields.

“We were told to go ahead with cap­tur­ing the wa­ter. We told them we would pay. We of­fered to pay for the pump which is about R25 000. The City said we should not spend our money. The wa­ter runs from all over Mitchells Plain to the ocean on a daily ba­sis; we need that wa­ter.”

Kol­bee said all the City needed to do was in­stall a pump so that the wa­ter could be redi­rected to the field.

Nigel Crowe, deputy prin­ci­pal and soc­cer co-or­di­na­tor at Mon­dale High School, said the sus­pen­sion of the league would have a rip­ple ef­fect on the com­mu­nity.

“You can imag­ine what’s go­ing to hap­pen to th­ese boys now. Most of those boys are quite vul­ner­a­ble to gang­ster­ism and drugs in the com­mu­nity. We have cre­ated an av­enue for them on a Satur­day to sway them away from those el­e­ments,” Crowe said.

League sec­re­tary Li-Anne Mervyn said: “The pe­riod of diplo­macy to the City is out of the win­dow. My son is one of the af­fected play­ers. As a par­ent I ask my­self what num­ber he’s go­ing to be when he doesn’t play – 26 or 28 (gangs)? This league is not a mat­ter of just kick­ing the ball; the chil­dren re­alise there is some­thing wor­thy of their time.”

Mayco mem­ber for Area South Ed­die An­drews said the Rock­lands project would be im­ple­mented us­ing the Recre­ation and Parks De­part­ment’s re­cently awarded bore­hole and pumps ten­der, which be­came ac­tive late last month.

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

The Rock­lands Sports Com­plex in Rock­lands, Mitchells Plain. Rock­lands soc­cer fields ad­min­is­tra­tors are cry­ing foul that the City has ig­nored their plan to re­open the fields with­out us­ing City wa­ter.

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