Drilling competition reaches 10-year milestone

Mitchells Plain SAPS station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam with one of the floating trophies of the Mitchells Plain Schools Marching and Drilling Competition, a SAPS initiative.

With about two months to go to the 10th anniversary of the Mitchell’s Plain Schools Marching and Drilling Competition, a Mitchell’s Plain SAPS initiative, excitement is building among primary and high school participants.

The Plainsman is the media partner for the event this year. The competition, held in conjunction with Midea Events, will be held at Stephen Reagon sportsfield in Westridge on Saturday October 14.

Explaining the benefits they have seen as a result of participation in the competition, Mitchell’s Plain SAPS station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam said being part of a marching band teaches discipline and respect.

This year 22 primary and high schools will compete.

Recalling the origins of the competition, Brigadier Goolam said the first competition was held in 2007, the brainchild of former Mitchell’s Plain SAPS cluster commander Major-General Jeremy Vearey, now police head of detectives in the Western Cape.

“At the time he was very involved in community development and saw the need for youth programmes because of gangsterism. I am honoured to have inherited such a great initiative and over the years it has grown, having a positive impact on crime,” he said.

Brigadier Goolam said the drilling programme aimed to divert youngsters from crime, instil discipline, teach them the importance of teamwork, manners and respect, leadership and self-confidence.

“These pupils practice for many hours, and with that they need to memorise drill (techniques) and music. And this teaches discipline, which they will use later in life. Some of them are put in leadership positions, so they have to keep the team together and make decisions. As a team, they work together and want to be the best, so they have a sense of pride when they step onto the field,” he said.

Elaborating on why the Plainsman decided to get involved, editor of Cape Community Newspapers, Chantel Erfort, said: “As a stable of community newspapers which are entrenched in the areas we serve, it is important for us to get involved in initiatives which help build and develop communities.

“The Plainsman has served the people of Mitchell’s Plain for nearly 40 years, reporting on the growth of the area, as well as the challenges it faces. And so, we felt it a good fit, to align ourselves with an initiative, such as the Marching and Drilling Competition, which has the well-being of the area’s young people at heart.”

Brigadier Goolam said this year schools from Mitchell’s Plain, around Cape Town and outside the province will compete.

“This is very exciting, and the pupils are hard at work preparing for the competition. What usually happens is, the two winners from the high and primary schools categories compete in Port Elizabeth. This year Harvester Primary School in Westridge was selected, because of their successful win,” he said.

Harvester Primary won the primary school drilling competition, held on Woman’s Day, August 9, in Port Elizabeth. They emerged overall winners out of 11 primary schools with a total score of 802.

They also achieved first place in the exhibition category as well as 1st place in the grand march pass category. (See page 23)

The next competition for primary schools in preparation of the 10th anniversary competition, hosted by Harvester Primary, will be on Saturday September 23 at Vygieskraal Stadium.

Brigadier Goolam said over the years the Mitchell’s Plain Schools Marching and Drilling Competition had improved. He said the quality and display of the drills has become more intense and competitive and more organised.

“Some of the highlights of the event are seeing the faces of the pupils, parents and community. How proud they look when they see their children, neighbours and fellow pupils – priceless.

“Then, it is the competition and how the drills are presented; you can see all the hard work put in by pupils, teachers and community members,” he said.

Singling out one of the major highlights and gains of the competitions, Brigadier Goolam said police members were able to see how they’d intervened at schools where pupils had been red-flagged as being at risk of crimes such as gangsterism.

Touching on the partnership with the Plainsman, Brigadier Goolam said: “The Plainsman, is a widely read newspaper in Mitchell’s Plain and reaches many people with their news stories.

“Being a trusted newspaper in the community, they will be able to expose our young people who are part of the programme. And by seeing themselves in the newspaper, they will feel good about themselves, being part of a positive initiative like this.”

If you have a positive story to share about the Mitchell’s Plain Schools Marching and Drilling Competition, email assistant editor Simoné* De Bruin at simoneh.debruin@inl.co.za