The name Ronnie Siljeur is synonymous with cricket in Mitchell’s Plain.
The late cricketer was the driving force behind a number of initiatives that uplifted the community and now his children are on a mission to build on the legacy he and his wife, Maureen, left behind.
Reagan, 36, and Heidi Siljeur, 45, started Legacy – The Siljeur Foundation in January.
Ronnie and Maureen both passed away after battles with cancer 0 Ronnie in 2010 at the age of 62 and Maureen in 2017 at the age of 68.
The foundation aims to raise awareness about childhood cancer and offers support to those undergoing treatment, and their families.
They also want to use sport as a way to help children in Mitchell’s Plain through coaching clinics and coach development clinics and to provide science and engineering education to disadvantaged pupils in the area and develop their leadership potential.
“There is not a person that does not know the name Ronnie Siljeur in cricket. At the age of 16 he played first team cricket. Ronnie played cricket for 20 years for Heatherley’s,” said Heidi.
Ronnie got married to Maureen and moved to Mitchell’s Plain.
Peter Buckton who worked at what was then the Westridge Cricket Club, now the Mitchell’s Plain Cricket Club, approached Mr Siljeur in 1979 about joining them. As a cricketer, he played for the first team at the Mitchell’s Plain Cricket Club against Vincent Barnes who was the former bowling coach of the Proteas.
Ronnie retired from competitive cricket in 1995 and started coaching the junior and senior levels at Mitchell’s Plain Cricket Club in 2005.
He believed that he needed to give back. He took up an admin position at the Mitchell’s Plain Cricket Club and became the secretary and chairperson because he believed there was a need for proper structures in Mitchell’s Plain.
“My dad worked very hard to mobilise all the clubs and to share the common goal. The common goal was how we promote cricket in Mitchell’s Plain so the associations can see our players,” said Heidi.
Ronnie established the cricket academy at Mitchell’s Plain Cricket Club in 1996. He set up proper structures and made Heidi coach the team. She had to earn her qualification as a coach through Cricket South Africa.
Ronnie was known for always having time for the children, advising them how to score a run, how to bat and how to just enjoy the game.
“At 8am in the morning he was gone and my mom would only see him back at 9pm in the evening, because it was all about cricket. My mom made peace with the fact that she was a cricket widow for six months of the year,” said Heidi.
They had a good relationship with Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA). “Nabeal Dien, who was the manager at the WPCA, said at the funeral that my Dad was a true servant of the game; it was never about himself. He was always thinking about the next person rather than himself.
“He would drive to Tafelsig, Westridge, all over to pick up those who did not have a lift for practice. If they did not have money for their kit or a bat my dad would step in and help where he could,” said Heidi.
When Maureen came to the field she would buy lunch for everyone.
“She wouldn’t buy two Steers burgers for my brother Reagon, and I, she would buy lunch for the whole team. Everybody knew that Aunty Maur would sort them out with lunch,” said Heidi.
Maureen’s close friend and neighbour Deslyn Evertse, 49, from Westridge, said: “She was a great woman. She would always make you laugh and feel better after a rough day.”
Ronnie was active in establishing the Portland Indoor Sports and Recreational Centre, working closely with Danny Ras from the City of Cape Town.
The two formed a committee, went to the City of Cape Town, and negotiated to create an indoor centre for the people of Mitchell’s Plain.
Reagan said: “My dad taught us that family comes first, especially those you bring up with you. We live that through our lives and strive to be the best we can be. He had an amazing heart, giving to whoever he could, no matter what.”
Starting the foundation was a way for Reagan and Heidi to deal with the sorrow of losing their parents.
“We were so moved to do something for our parents as they’ve always wanted their own family business.”
The foundation started out very small, focusing on cricket. They then expanded to developing sport, coaching and promoting sport as well as dealing with children and adults with cancer.
“It started off as Ronnie and Maureen’s legacy but it’s also about what your legacy is and what you would like to leave behind one day,” said Reagan.
The Siljeur Foundation took part in the annual CANSA Relay for Life Mitchell’s Plain event on Friday March 2.
The cancer survivors marched on the field to highlight different organisations and beautiful messages to cancer survivors.
Supporters camped out at the sports field from 6pm to 6am the next day, to commemorate those with cancer, while the relay continued.
Candles were lit to acknowledge all those who have been touched by cancer.
If you wish to support the Mitchell’s Plain Relay Committee with funds or adult diapers and food parcels required for cancer survivors, you can contact the chairperson Fadia van Oudtshoorn on 066 202 0633 for more information.w