Children to play with balls not guns

Boys and girls are encourage to play ball. Last year in Manenberg they had children play soccer to keep them off the streets.

Gloria Oliver, founder of Abbas Restoration House Ministry, is calling on all mothers from Pelican Park and the Cape Flats to join them in a project “taking back our children initiated by mothers.”

The ministry, based at Pelican Christian Lodge, in Jacana Lane, Pelican Park, launched a “balls not guns” soccer tournament, which will take place at Phoenix High School, in Manenberg, tomorrow, Thursday March 21 (Human Rights Day), from 10am.

It was in Manenberg that she got the idea to focus on mothers who should be taking responsibility for their children.

“I was watching the children playing with a ball made out of paper, and I was thinking what are these kids doing? I had a vision that this ball was a symbol of peace and this ball enables friendship.”

So, Ms Oliver got the ball rolling and contacted parents and a few businesses to sponsor balls.

“The reason I started this initiative in Manenberg was because I think this area is the heart of the Cape Flats, and when other areas (such as Lavender Hill, Lotus River, Ottery and Steenberg, with the same challenges) see how Manenberg is changing, they will follow.”

Ms Oliver came from a challenging and abusive background herself and when she started the ministries 20 years ago in Muizenberg, where she used to live, she focused on helping rape victims from the Cape Flats, including keeping children off the streets and away from drugs and prostitution.

At the time she worked in areas such as Capricorn, Coniston Park and Retreat. “Our kids are dying and if we don’t wake up we will lose the battle in the fight for life.”

Amiena Bright, a former soccer player, said she came on board to encourage parents to join the “balls not guns” drive. She used to play soccer for Kenwyn United Soccer Club in the 1980s. “I had my own Bright Stars Soccer Club, in Manenberg, but due to gang violence and mothers not wanting to send (the children) to play, the club was inactive.”

Last year, she said, they trained a group of children and it was very successful. This year she has been training a team of boys and girls, getting them ready to play in upcoming tournaments.

Ms Oliver said she believed the “balls not guns” initiative should be encouraged in all areas and said if anyone wanted to start one, they could contact her for assistance. “As mothers we must bring joy and peace again in the lives of our children.

“I believe my child is your child. I once saw a mother smack her child, and I stopped her and told her
not to. I said if you hit a child, one day he will hit you back. Children are growing up with anger and the community is out of order. We also live in a selfish world. However,
love can resolve and cultivate goodness.”

Ms Oliver said if each adult brought a ball for a child it would get them active. “I noticed since the mothers started the soccer teams fathers are also coming to watch.

“It takes women to come together, to make a difference, as they are the hearts in our community.

“We want to take care of our children and to create a spirit of Ubuntu.”

She is calling on well-known sports stars to come out and motivate the children. “We are also asking businesses to come on board.”

Parents who are interested in starting the “balls not guns” initiative in their communities, can contact Ms Oliver on 074 216 1132.