Unchaining the Plain

Shaun Permall, Dale Santon, Ryan Crouse, Dominic Isaacs and David Nyathi.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Unchain the Plain (UTP) members, as they embarked on a kit and equipment handover blitz, including the weekend’s adopt-a-ball launch, at Beacon Hill High School at the weekend, at the weekend.

Unchain’s Juven Rittles said they have branded their own balls and distributed them in schools.

“We felt that the big ball-manufacturing companies are not visible in the community. We bought these ones with the fraction of the price, branded them and the schools adopted them,” he said.

Unchain is an organisation that collects and distributes sports equipment to primary schools and other organisations.

Former Springbok Dale Santon and former professional soccer players David Nyathi, Dominic Isaacs, Shaun Permall and Quinton Booysen attended Saturday’s gathering.

“What we did today, said UTP founder member, Mark Skriker, “was to invite companies and individuals to ‘adopt a ball’ so that we can donate it to children, free of charge.”

Skriker said the aim is to become self-sustainable so that they may continue to be able to supply schools and organisations with much-needed equipment.

“We don’t always want to stand cap in hand but create a project that’s absolutely sustainable,” he said.

“The idea is to supply schools and local clubs with balls and to use that funding to cross-subsidise the balls that we hand out for free.

Last week, Skriker and the UTP crew went on a handover blitz that saw dropping of gear in seven areas.

One of the people who benefited from this was Norman Fortune, who started a sports development project in his neighbourhood, three months ago, at the height of the lockdown period.

An Eastridge resident, Fortune, 44, is on a mission. He says he wants to play an active part in bringing children together through sport and other recreational activities.

To achieve this he decided to make it his duty to keep children busy by hosting football and cricket games every Saturday.

On top of this, he says they also give the children something to eat.

“The plan is to encourage them to be interested in sport while building relationships too. We also take them to the beach through the help of the community. Of course, we make sure we observe all the Covid-19 regulations,” he said.

He said the equipment, which included tennis balls and racquets, will come in handy.

“That, for us, means we can now add tennis to our football and cricket programmes. We mainly focus on teaching the children the importance of teamwork while building friendships in the process.

The reaction from the children and parents has been good. The plan is to take the children to different settings, to give them something different to see, and different tasks to do.

I have been involved with different football clubs in Mitchell’s Plain. I think I have inherited this love of working with children from my father. I realised earlier that Eastridge parents do not have means to take their children to coaching clinics.

So, I asked myself if we don’t act, who’s going to? We are also aware of the Covid19 pandemic, which means whatever we do should be within the confines of the restrictions,” he said.