Lentegeur sports field could be ‘gold mine’ for the community

Pictured in front, from left, are Beacon City soccer player Rafique Kelly, 14, from Beacon Valley, holding his poster. Next to him are Collegians Rugby Football Club members Riedewaan Narker, player Rafiek Adams, Zahrier Abrahams and Faseegh Creighton.

Mitchell’s Plain Lentegeur sports field users are digging their heels in, protesting land invasions for the sake of housing.

Representatives from different sporting codes who practised and played on the field, stood along Morgenster Road shouting “Hands off our field” on Tuesday October 31.

They were supported by various Lentegeur safety structures and Avron Plaatjies, the councillor for Ward 76.

Their protest follows Group 4 Developers, a non-profit organisation, invading Lentegeur sports field on Sunday October 22, demanding access to housing (“Lentegeur sports field invaded”, Plainsman, October 25).

Mitchell’s Plain backyarders and tenants marked plots on the Lentegeur sports field.

Chairman of Lentegeur Football Club, Johan van Wyk, said they’ve been using the field for 31 years, during which it has gone through “ups and downs”.

“Infrastructure has been damaged, children are robbed of sports equipment en route to training and the field was not properly cared for,” he said.

Mr Van Wyk concurred that the community was responsible for breaking the facility down but said that they needed a second chance to ensure the children of Mitchell’s Plain have somewhere to go, other than the gangs, substance abuse and being murdered.

He said in its heyday the field was fenced in, secured, had security, toilets and changing facilities.

“This can be a gold mine for the people of Mitchell’s Plain when we take ownership and care for this space,” he said.

Mr Van Wyk said that they had 130 children and 60 senior members using the facility about three times a week for training and that at the moment the field could not be played on.

“I am hopeful that we will be able to play on this field again,” he said.

Mr Plaatjies confirmed that the budget of R12 million to have the field fenced in again has been secured and that work would start soon.

He has also been vocal in Wolfgat Sub-council meetings regarding the vandalising of the field’s irrigation system days after it was installed.

Earlier this year the water irrigation system at Lentegeur sports field was ripped out twice (“‘Plain sports fields need fixing”, Plainsman, April 5).

There are several interested groups, including rugby, soccer, golf, a dog training club, driving school and cricket club accessing different parts of the field, bordered by Morgenster Road.

On March 28 they held a special sub-council meeting with the City of Cape Town parks and recreation department officials at the Lentegeur chamber, specifically to address the “non-playable” state of fields because of vandalism and theft.

Sub-council chairman Solomon Philander, who is also councillor for Ward 116, said fencing the field came at a cost of R12 million, which had already been stolen.

He said the field was constantly under threat and that a partnership with the community was needed.

Collegians Rugby Football Club vice president, Riedewaan Narker, said that they would like to keep the children away from gangsterism and drugs.

He said they needed to keep them occupied with sport because “a child in sport, was a child out of court”.

Senior rugby player and coach, Rafiek Adams, said if they lost the field they would lose approximately 80 children, which would have a negative impact on the club and the community.

Another player, Zahrier Abrahams, said they understood the need for housing but that there was a process to be followed. “We must be able to share the land. There are spaces for housing and for sport. All the children are here and they must be able to play sport,” he said.

Mr Abrahams also said that there were several sports fields in Mitchell’s Plain but that they were already being used by many sports clubs.

Junior sports players shout “Leave our field”.