Amateur soccer teams in the township of Khayelitsha are forking out a lot of money to play their games.
The area has three soccer leagues; the Khayelitsha league, the Mandela Park league and the newly formed Monwabisi Park league. The latter was established two years ago in 2013. It is presided over by Zwelenkosi Matika.
At the end of the day we spend close to a thousand rand if you consider transport money and lunch for the boys.
Being the biggest township in the city, Khayelitsha has no shortage of soccer clubs but, a serious shortage of soccer fields. This shortage costs the clubs quite a substantial amount of money for when they want to play their games they have to rent fields for their home games.
Clubs have to either rent from a nearby school or they often play their games on unmarked grounds. Clubs especially in Monwabisi Park which itself is an informal settlement have taken to cut their own fields for practice during the week.
“We have no fields at all in this league, we struggle a lot because of that,” said Shooting Stars coach, Sithole. Shooting Stars participate in the Monwabisi Park League.
“To practice during the week, we’ve had to use that big open piece of land nearby the college (False Bay College), for our official games, we rent fields in Tafelsig, Mitchell’s Plain,” Sithole said.
He maintains that the rent for the fields is too steep especially because they are an amateur team and his players are quite young, at school and therefore struggle to raise the required funds.
“For a field itself we pay R21 per hour, sometimes we have all four of our teams playing starting from Under 11 up to the senior team. For the poles we pay R150 for each but, since we cannot use just one pole for the game we have to pay R300 to use both. At the end of the day we spend close to a thousand rand if you consider transport money and lunch for the boys,” said Sithole.
In reply however, the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Special Projects, Alderman Belinda Walker said: “The city is supportive of the development of soccer and dedicates a large proportion of its budget for new sports facilities towards the development of this sport.”
Walker went on to say that; “The SRA Department’s roll-out of synthetic soccer pitches is allowing far greater numbers of soccer players to access world-class playing spaces and this initiative is yielding massive benefits for the development of soccer.”
At Nyanga along the N2, young boys are often seen playing soccer close to the road but, Walker says: “The Site C sports ground complex has one full-sized synthetic football pitch as well as three natural grass football fields which are well used by the football community. The clubs based there would welcome youth into their ranks to join them. These youth playing along the N2 are free to join these clubs based at the sports ground complex.
Where there are insufficient soccer fields currently available, players can use vacant public open space in the area for informal soccer games and practices. For formal games, it would be beneficial for the local soccer teams to approach the Basic Education Department and school governing bodies to investigate gaining access to school fields through a shared facilities arrangement”, she said.
Meanwhile the struggle continues for the soccer teams in Khayelitsha who do not have access or money to afford to rent fields that are in a good condition to play on.