by Simamkele Matuntuta

A sporting chance

Disadvantaged children are bowled over

Cricket champs give back
Disadvantaged kids are bowled over

The tournament will be a battle between twelve cricket teams with current and past players such as Jonty Rhodes, Gary Kirsten and Shaun Pollock.

Teams will bid for cricket legends for their teams at an invite-only cocktail function, with all earnings going towards Sporting Chance Development Foundation.

Sporting Chance’s prime objective is to provide opportunities for children, age 9 and up, to excel at sport by offering professional coaching at schools and sports clubs.

Brad Bing, Sporting Chance’s managing director, says the key is to pull in kids before they become teenagers so they can influence them in the right direction regarding what they want to achieve in life.

These events give Sporting Chance the opportunity to teach the kids what sport is all about and use that to identify talent – from there they can go on to sports schools and be mentored.

“The main challenge is finding sponsorship. People who actually should invest in township kids don’t want to sponsor at the bottom level because sponsors only get media coverage by investing at top level,” says Bing.

Fifteen-year-old Siphelo Witbooi, currently in grade 8 at Joe Slovo High School in Khayelitsha, is one of the kids involved with Sporting Chance. He started playing cricket at the age of nine at a Calypso cricket event and had the courage to continue playing, even though he was discouraged by his friends because he was not good at it.

“My mother doesn’t understand much about the sport but she does encourage me to play and do the best I can. I believe I’m better now than when I started,” says Witbooi.

His favourite cricket player and inspiration is Makhaya Ntini. ”I’ve learnt that if you are a sportsman, you need to eat healthy,” he added.

“Sport is a great opportunity to get kids outdoors and active, which in turn gives them an opportunity to be healthy, meet other kids, learn about other cultures and grow their skills base. Sporting Chance can help grow a new generation of sports stars and, hopefully, also grow them as people,” says Graeme Smith.

Mark Boucher says playing sports is the best way to get a person out there and be more active, but it’s also about creating a healthy mind.

Another bonus is that it helps tackle obesity – a huge public health issue nowadays. With social media, TV and video games among the contributing factors, it is hard to get the youth to be physically active.

According to Wonga Matshabane, projects manager at Sporting Chance, they have a health-of-the-nation project that has been running for about 10 years, aimed at creating awareness for kids about going out there and being active.

 “We blame TV, video games and social networks for inactivity but the kids do not buy these things – it’s their parents who do. It is important to create an environment for kids to go out and play,” says Matshabane.

“I have never met a kid who does not want to go out and play. We have, however, created an environment for kids to be indoors. Crime is also a contributing factor, as parents would rather keep their kids indoors. It is a tough situation but it’s a fight that we are taking on,” he added.

 

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