Partnership by NGO Voice of Parkwood (VOP) and the St Augustine’s Cricket club.

LILLIAN AMOS

A group of youngsters were given the opportunity to play a sport much loved by many South Africans, thanks to a partnership by NGO Voice of Parkwood (VOP) and the St Augustine’s Cricket club.

The youngsters, who live in Parkwood, took part in a cricket clinic at the club in Elfindale which started in January this year.

They received certificates for their participation in the programme on Thursday April 14.

Paul Phillips, chairperson of VOP, said the initiative gives teenagers an alternative to drugs and gangsterism, which has become a norm in the area.

“Parkwood has many challenges because we have a lot of gangsterism, crime and drug activities.

“The other problem is that most sports facilities and open spaces like our parks have been taken over by gangsters,” he said.

“Exposure to these types of activities is important because children become so used to the crime and negativity that it becomes the norm.

“They think it’s what they’re supposed to do. If they partake in other activities we create something better for our children – something that uplifts them,” said Mr Phillips, who thanked St Augustine’s Cricket Club for the partnership.

“We are grateful to the club for opening up their facilities to the youngsters of Parkwood. It means a great deal to them,” he said.

St Augustine’s chairman, Robin Poggenpoel, said he too lived in a gang ridden area of Retreat when he was younger. “I grew up in the same circumstances and sports was my escape.

“We are honoured to give these kids an alternative where sport is fostered and where children are taken off the streets and in the long run hopefully we will get rid of gangsterism and crime,” he said.

Grassy Park CPF chairperson, Fuad Titus was also at the certificate ceremony and agreed that the initiative is a positive way to fight social ills in the area.

“They say that a child in sport is a child out of court.

“Because of sport we have an opportunity to fight against the surge of gangsterism.

“We won’t see the results now but we will definitely see it in the future and it will bear fruit in the community of Parkwood,” said Mr Titus.