The streets of Nyanga were abuzz when 11 teams from disadvantaged communities throughout the Western Cape competed for the coveted Sporting Chance Street Cricket Champions’ Trophy on Wednesday 1 December.
For the past five weeks more than 3000 young learners from 11 regions including Mitchell’s Plain, Manenberg, Gugulethu, Langa, Ocean View, Masipumelele, Elsies River, Khayelitsha and Macassar have taken to the streets, to compete in the 2010 Sporting Chance Street Cricket League.
The Sporting Chance Street Cricket League, in association with Disney, Grand West CSI and the HCI Foundation, is in its seventh successful season and according to event organiser Brad Bing of Sporting Chance, the youth sports development agency that launched the street cricket league in 2003, the initiative has enjoyed unprecedented success since its humble beginnings as a pilot project in Langa.
Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, who attended the finals, applauded the initiative. “Projects like this show children the value of sport whilst bringing communities and cultures together. Sports development is very important to the Western Cape and initiatives like this really add value to our communities,” said Dr Meyer.
Bing concurs. “The communities are filled with sports mad children and the street cricket league allows them to be actively involved in cricket and the enjoyment that goes with it, in their very own neighbourhoods.”
Regional cricket clubs and sports organisations in association with Sporting Chance organise children under 11 into street teams of ten. At least two members of each team must be girls and all must have attended school throughout the year prior to the start of the tournament – all part of Sporting Chance’s philosophy of getting as many children irrespective of race, gender or social class, off the streets and into the sporting environment.
“They don’t like cricket, they love it,” jokes Bing, who also adds that the tournament is more than ‘just a game’. “Up to a certain age, all boys and girls should ideally be exposed to sport and research has shown that you develop your habits by the age of 12,” says Bing. “If you’re not playing sport or leading an active and healthy lifestyle by then, the chances are that sport and being physically active will not feature in your adult lifestyle.”
Heidi Abrahams of GrandWest CSI adds. “By introducing children to an active lifestyle we aim to provide them with healthy alternatives to drugs and crime,” says Abrahams. “We want to get children playing in the annual street cricket tournament and encourage them to enjoy the fun of sport and avoid the temptations of drugs and crime that plague our youth of today.”
“The children in these communities face various challenges,” says Disney’s Amanda D’halluin. “This tournament gives them an opportunity to be part of a team and belong to something – all children want that sense of ‘belonging’ and if we can provide them with valuable programmes and projects, perhaps we can lessen the weight of their challenging environments.”