Forty years and still on the ball


There are only a small number of people whose birthdays coincide with the anniversaries of the place in which they live and Westridge’s Anita Barnes, chairperson of Westridge Netball Club, is one of those people.

She has seen Mitchell’s Plain evolve from a dusty patch of land to the hustling and bustling suburb it is now.

That means she has literally been there since the first soccer pitch and netball court were laid out and she remembers her home being one of only a few that stood at the edge of those fields, decades ago.

“Back in the day the netball and soccer clubs were combined, as Westridge Football and Netball Club and although I am very involved with netball these days, my initial attraction was to soccer.

“My mother was involved with the club and my brother used to play soccer so I just tagged along and played in the junior structures until the under-15 age group.

“When the club established its first women’s side I played for them and did so until I became a mom, at which point I diverted to the netball side of things.

“Around seven years ago the clubs decided to split and form their own executive committees.

“My role comprises a little bit of everything from refereeing and umpiring to coaching at all levels, from our juniors, to provincial level a few years ago.

“In a way you can say that I am a born and bred Mitchell’s Plain baby. My parents moved into their home in Westridge in June 1976 and I was born in that home in October.

“Back then everything was raw, if you can imagine from the firestation to Westridge High School, there was just a field, a few houses and the netball court.

“Things have definitely changed a lot since then. We were the only sports club in the area and teams would come from all over Cape Town to play here,” she said.

Club secretary, Athenea Lemore, has also watched the evolution of the area and her memories extend to the very formation of the sports club.

She first appeared on the club scene 38 years ago and has seen it grow from strength to strength, where it still serves as one of the biggest clubs in the area and a pillar member of the Mitchell’s Plain Netball Union.

“When the club was first started all those years ago, by a Mrs Allan and her daughters, there weren’t many teams to play against and we mostly just formed teams among ourselves and played internally like that.

“As it started to grow we would have teams visit us and eventually, when some other teams formed in the area, we were able to put together the union that has grown so big that it now even includes teams from outside of the Mitchell’s Plain area.

“It has been quite something to watch our club grow from having one team to being able to field a team in every division.

“I am the secretary of the club and involved with the union but I am also still active on the court too and still play for our club,” she said.