Community comes together to resolve spat over street ball games

Young resident Chesne’ Engelbrecht, 17, speaking to the residents in his street from a young person’s standpoint on playing ball in their street. Next to him is chairman of Westridge sub-forum, Ashley Potts.
The residents in Shetland Close on Wednesday June 23 after complaints came in from residents in Shetland Close and Saddle Close, Westridge on young people playing soccer in the street.

A spat among Westridge residents about children playing with a ball in the road has highlighted the need for recreational facilities in the area – and for residents to communicate with each other to resolve matters amicably.

Residents of Shetland Close and Saddle Close, Westridge raised their complaints about young people playing soccer in the street with Westridge Community Police Forum (CPF) sub-forum chairman, Ashley Potts.

On Wednesday June 23, the residents were given an opportunity to share their concerns, grievances and come up with solutions together.

Mr Potts told the Plainsman he had been contacted on Monday June 14, to mediate between a resident of the Shetland Crescent and about 25 young people.

“The challenge has sadly been one which has been confronted on numerous occasions with little to no resolve,” said Mr Potts.

“I am appealing to the parents of the community. How can we rally behind our kids to continue to play sport but they are not allowed to as there is no space available for them.”

Emily Daniels, 70, said she was happy for the children to play, even if they did, at times, make a noise.

“These children grow up in front of us. When they play it doesn’t bother us. Put up the poles, secure the space so that they know they can have access to it. Do something please. I will be the referee,” said Ms Daniels.

Chesne’ Engelbrecht, 17, said they just want to play soccer, but sometimes residents are nasty to them.

Jennifer Jantjies, 18, said the comments had been disheartening. “We were told to play in another area which is either unsafe or further away. We would like a space provided to us as young people so that we have access to playing in a safe space,” she said.

Resident Francis Williams said they want to be respected by the youth when they play. “Respect goes a long way. They must respect us when we ask them to play nicely. We’ve been staying here for 46 years and we weren’t disrespected,” she said.

Ward 78 councillor Eddie Andrews said while residents raised much frustration, it was important for children to play – and to have somewhere to do so safely.

Wayne Steyn, founder member of the Young Adults Youth Ministry (YAYM), a non-profit organisation affiliated to the interdenominational Westridge LEAN (Local Economical Action Network) encouraged the youth to join the church’s holiday club programme.

Westridge sub-forum also met with the neighbouring school, Ridgeville Primary to make use of their school turf and Juven Rittles from Unchain the Plain and his team are also helping to resolve the matter

Principal Anthony Europa said while they supported the initiative, a proposal would have to be presented to the school’s governing body.

“Logistics need to be sorted such as adult supervision, making sure there will be no damage to school property, screening, checking in, as Covid-19 protocols should still be observed,” said Mr Europa.

Mr Potts is asking residents to rally support to help make sport possible for the youth. For more information call or WhatsApp Mr Potts on 082 887 6440 if you are willing to assist.