School soccer suspended in crisis
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.
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.