A Westridge netball facility has had a R1 million facelift.
The upgrade, which included improvements to the changing rooms and toilets, could result in the facility becoming a suitable location for international teams to play practice games in preparation for the Netball World Cup, to be held in Cape Town in 2023.
Stephen Reagon Sports Complex, is home to the Mitchell’s Plain Netball Union, the biggest sub-union affiliated to the Cape Town Netball Federation, in the Western Cape, and member of the umbrella body Netball South Africa.
Union chairman Igshaan Brenner and public relations officer for the federation, said the funding for the upgrade was part of the Netball World Cup’s legacy project which was aimed at “ensuring that netball leaves behind facilities, which locals can use afterward”.
Mr Brenner said that for many years girls and women had been forced to change “in the open” because there were no proper change rooms.
“Part of this was to restore the dignity of the 100s and 1000s who can now dress in a changing room,” he said.
To access the funding, the union had had to apply to the City of Cape Town’s Recreation and Parks Department and the provincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS).
Last year lights were installed on the netball courts to increase the capacity and practice time of players.
“Due to fixture congestion (and) the influx of members, we had no choice but to play league matches on Saturdays and Sundays because we only have the four netball courts,” he said.
Mr Brenner said the lights allowed them to help federation players to train and prepare for national competitions after hours.
The union has 25 clubs, with up to 250 members each.
The sports complex now has two new prefab change rooms and an additional ablution block to the netball section.
The provincial department contributed toward the building material at a cost of R779 000 and the City contributed towards the installation and management of the project, valued at approximately R310 000. Construction started in December and was completed within three months.
Westridge ward councillor Eddie Andrews said the existing infrastructure and its maintenance had helped motivate for the funding.
Colleen Charles, treasurer of Westridge Netball Club, said they were surprised at the handover of the changing rooms last week.
National Deputy Minister of Sports and Recreation, Arts and Culture, Nocawe Mafu, was the keynote speaker, along with MEC Anroux Marais and mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien.
Dr Badroodien said the new netball facility would add value to the sporting code.
“It will allow for quality practice sessions and create opportunities for young talent to hone their skills and to further empower netball as a mainstream sport.”
He said new facilities and the maintenance and upgrade of existing netball facilities were important for the City’s preparation for the world cup.
“These new facilities will also contribute towards a sense of community pride and it is therefore important that the community take co-ownership of it,” he said.