Vandals make pitch imperfect

Residents of Helios Close in Woodlands cleaned and cordoned off the netball and basketball pitch two weeks before vandals ripped up the tyres and burnt them during a land invasion and protest.

Tyres used to cordon off and beautify a Woodlands netball and basketball pitch were ripped out and burned in recent protests.

Early last month, a group of youths calling themselves The Unknowns, decided to clean the pitch, in Helios Close, which they used to play on and pay it forward for their children and grandchildren, who now enjoy a safe space. The Unknowns started out as a social soccer group two years ago, but evolved into a group of friends making a difference in their community.

The Plainsman met the Unknowns on Wednesday May 23, two days before the land invasion during which backyard dwellers marked their plots on vacant land.

After the City of Cape Town’s Anti-land Invasion Unit removed the structures, the backyard dwellers took their protest to the streets, where they burned tyres.

The pitched had been tarred, and netball posts and basketball hoop erected in 1997 but three years later it was stolen. Riyaaz Salie, 34, captain of The Unknowns said as children they used to mark their soccer posts with stones.

But, over the years the pitch became a dump.

“We had to clear the pitch of faeces, broken glass and we used a broken bakkie, which had to be towed, to collect tyres, which we used to cordon off (the area),” he said.

Annie van der Merwe, 80, said she was proud of The Unknowns and that she supports them.

“This is a positive thing for their children,” she said.

Colleen Haskin, who lives meters away from the pitch, said she was disappointed that something the youth had worked so hard on, over a few weeks, had been destroyed in moments of frustration.

The Unknowns will be hosting a six-a-side soccer tournament on the pitch on Saturday July 7, starting with registration at 2pm. Entry is R300 a team and refreshments will be on sale. Entries close on Friday June 22. For more information call Mr Salie on 078 313 2907.