On the right track

Teacher Wesley Neumann and principal Mark Engelbrecht on the field earmarked for the track.

Heathfield High School has started lobbying for assistance to build a R36 million sports complex, which will benefit athletes, sports clubs and communities in the Western Cape.

While a Tartan Track for athletics will be the main component of the complex on their premises, facilities for other sports such as basketball, volleyball, cricket and obstacle courses will also be accommodated.

The aim is to complete the complex by 2020.

Now the school is asking the community, including businesses and former pupils, to come on board.

Principal Mark Engelbrecht said it took two years for the complex to be designed and the next step is to obtain funding.

“The project is designed to complement what the school already offers, but in a way that serves our current and future needs. The magnitude of this project amply demonstrates our belief and confidence in the long-term potential of our youth,” said Mr Engelbrecht.

“The 56-year-old school is actively involved in seven sporting codes and is slowly clawing its way back to its former glory. Athletics is a clear part of the DNA of Heathfield High School, hence the pursuit of wanting to acquire a Tartan Track as a main component of the sports complex.”

A Tartan Track is a trademarked all-weather, synthetic track made of polyurethane and used for track and field competitions.

Teacher Wesley Neumann said the closest track available for Heathfield High School and the surrounding community is in Vygieskraal, Athlone.

“This project serves the broader community and Heathfield has a history of being a community school. This complex will create many opportunities for pupils from all schools to excel in their area of strength,” said Mr Neumann.

Two years ago the school started a fund-raising initiative and they invited former pupils and organisations to attend the opening of their new Garden Cities’ Archway Foundation school hall.

At the opening of the hall in September 2015, a Heathfield High School Alumni Association was formed to rekindle old friendships and to invest in school projects. Mr Engelbrecht said: “Some of these people include two Olympians, Leigh-Ann Naidoo and Freddie Williams. Other prominent alumni include Ebrahim Patel, Marc Lottering, Ruben Richards and Terrence Smith.”

Mr Engelbrecht said the school values its role and place within the community and has always made its facilities available to the surrounding schools, sports clubs, church groups and community organisations. “It is a safe environment utilised by many people with various needs. We want to develop a space where young people can learn the fundamentals of sport, team building, leadership, and life skills.”

Mr Neumann added: “It is our wish to make the school the heart of community, where we can utilise the available space to engage our youth in a meaningful and constructive manner to steer them away from the many social ills that pervade our communities.”

Mr Engelbrecht expressed the fundamental need to have access to a track that may produce future icons. “Currently the name on everyone’s lips is Wayde van Niekerk, a South African athletics icon who is passionate about inspiring youth. Role models such as these can inspire young people to be the best they can be whatever the context and no matter what their circumstances.”

Heathfield High School has always, despite its historical lack of resources, embarked on enterprising initiatives to create opportunities for its pupils. “Our aim is to provide an environment where young people can be encouraged to engage in sport and enhance their educational experience,” said Mr Engelbrecht.

“Over the past few months the school will be embarking on a series of fund-raising initiatives so we ask you to keep an eye out for ways that you, as part of the broader community, can get involved,” said Mr Engelbrecht.

Mr Neumann said the school has recently partnered with the African Sports Training Academy, which has started a programme to further athletes prospects of reaching international heights. “Recently the school has also acquired a school gym sponsored by Virgin Active to assist with the development of sporting excellence. “We would also like to acknowledge ward councillor, Kevin Southgate, for his endorsement of the project and for his continuous support towards the project.”

Mr Southgate, also a former Heathfield High School pupil, encouraged everyone to commit to building this complex. He said he is in full support of developing youth skills. “Sport has the unique ability of providing our youth with the opportunity of transforming and enriching their lives for the good. It has the potential of identifying talents and allowing it to be developed into life changing events. This is witnessed through the many champions that South Africa has produced especially those who emerged from within impoverished communities. The reality, however, is that we are allowing so many of our youth to fall through the cracks because of the lack of facilities that exist especially in the southern suburbs and it is therefore why I have committed myself to be a part of this ground breaking initiative that has been undertaken by the school.”

Mr Southgate said as a former pupil it is a “privilege” for him to serve the community as its ward councillor and to be a part of this project.

“I have committed to engage all the relevant authorities to support this initiative and to provide assistance in making the project a reality,” he said.

Mr Neumann said the school has many activities happening at the school which serves the community such as: keep fit community classes on a Monday to Thursday evening and athletics on their grass track, on Friday afternoons.

Blob HHS also presents its annual 24 Hour Marathon camp-over on October 13 and October 14. There will also be a 5km Fun Run on October 14.

If you want to contribute to the school’s sports complex or for more information contact Mr Neumann on 084 725 6672 or the school on 021 715 4622 or email admin@hh.wcape.school.za