Organised sport to keep Masi kids focused

The children of Pixie Patch are happy to be back at school and are looking forward to an exciting term.

The children at Masiphumelele’s Ukhanyo Primary School play cricket with a tennis ball on a netball court and there is one coach for almost 2 000 pupils, but that’s about to change.

Ukhanyo is the only primary school in the township of 45 000 people and its lone PE teacher Nceba Jonas, who has been at the school for 14 years, has his work cut out, coaching four age groups (under-9, 10, 11 and 13) twice a week in cricket, rugby, netball, soccer and athletics: the school, which has 43 pupils per class, has only a single netball court, a short hard sprinting track and potholed field with no posts or lines.

Netball is the most popular sport at the school and Mr Jonas coaches the eight teams with the help of two volunteers, who are former pupils. The school has four netballs.

There are no cricket facilities: no cricket balls, no nets and no field, but despite that the sport is popular, and Mr Jonas coaches two teams who use a tennis ball on the hard netball court. That’s also where Mr Jonas coaches soccer… and rugby. It’s tag rugby because tackling isn’t a pretty thing on a netball court.

An NGO, Coolplay, provides two rugby coaches to support the four rugby teams. Athletics is organised in January only and the school only has soccer kit for its under-13A team – shirts and socks. The lack of facilities at the school means, participation in organised sport is low, but a project, led by former South African cricketer Vince van der Bijl, is set to completely overhaul Ukhanyo’s sports facilities and allow it to run an organised sports programme.

The MCC MASI 750 Sports Club project is spearheaded by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) which will put in R870 000 over the next three years for three cricket nets, coaching personnel and general support and equipment needs.

The MCC MASI 750 Sports Club plans, which were shared at a meeting at Cafe Roux in Noordhoek on Tuesday August 1, are to keep the project sustainable by matching and, in time, exceeding the MCC funding.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is the world’s most active cricket club, the owner of Lord’s Cricket Ground and the guardian of the Laws of Cricket. It was founded in 1787 and moved to its current home at Lord’s in 1814.

Van der Bijl said organised sport reduced crime, gang participation and drug abuse and gave children confidence

.The project, he said, was all about how the children, and the community would benefit as a result.

“This is what the MCC MASI 750 Sports Club project is designed to do as well as giving potential sportsmen/women a path to realise their full talent.”

The project has the support of the NGO Masicorp, which runs more than 50 projects from pre-school learning to entrepreneurial projects and bursaries.

The project has drawn support from The Sporting Chance Foundation, Coolplay, Good Sport, Vuza, and Connect, among others.

Fish Hoek Cricket Club will help to coach cricket and the club’s Elize Koch will help to start up girls’ cricket in the fourth term.

Two Ukhanyo cricket teams will also play in the club’s mini-cricket programme to be held every Friday afternoon in summer.

Norma Schooling, an ex-WP hockey and netball provincial player and experienced sports administrator, is to head up the netball programme and assist in the administration of school sport to ensure the teams play official school league sport and not friendlies as is currently the case.

Andrew Gray, ex Protea cricket team biokineticist and lecturer at the Exercise Training Academy, will help with PE in the third term, and 12 of his students will provide guidance with a specifically designed exercise programme per grade at the school.

Fish Hoek and Sun Valley primary schools are also supporting the project. Shani Winter, an ex-Springbok netball player and Sun Valley teacher, has offered her help. The drive expects to raise R500 000 next year followed by R1million in 2019 through individual sponsorship.

“If you would like a guided tour through Masiphumelele and to learn more about the MCC MASI 750 Sports Club and the work of Masicorp in the township, please write to and book a suitable time and date,” said Van der Bijl.