A primary school in Alexandra with no sports facilities was declared new district championship winners of the school’s rugby tournament
Gordon primary school was recently crowned junior rugby champs despite the lack of sports facilities at the school. Former Model C schools which are better resourced also took part in the tournament.
There are no sports facilities at the school and the children train on a concrete floor area behind the classrooms – an area that is also used for morning prayers. The area is small and not conducive for rugby or any sport for that matter.
The school might be champions but according to the schools’ head of department for sports, Henry Khoza the preparation for the tournament was difficult because they don’t have fields to train on. “We have a quad where we normally hold our assemblies but we use it after school for practice and it affect us a lot like when our learners have to compete on a full ground. They do struggle as they are used to train on our small quad and usually they easily get tired”.
Khoza said that lack of space is the main reason they do not have sports fields. “Here in Alexandra we do not have land, that’s why you see schools are built like a prisons”.
The school has to use Alex High fields which has its own challenges according to Khoza. “Just imagine if you are taking children outside of school premisesand get children knocked down by a car? It also frustrates the kids if the do not train after school”, said Khoza.
The 103 year old township is overpopulated and heavily congested.
Thobeka Magcai, communication specialist of Gauteng Department of Education, said they had been experiencing challenges of availability of space especially in township schools. “Alexandra Secondary School does have sports facilities. In areas where there is no space, schools are encouraged to use municipal sports facilities. We do try to assist schools to get sports facilities and also encourage learners to participate in school sports”.
Siyanda Manyala, the captain of the rugby team at Gordon Primary says his dream is to play for the Springboks. But, given the current situation in their school his dream is unlikely to materialise.
Mogale Radebe, the school’s governing body chairperson says that the situation at Gordon is bad and they have applied to get sports fields. But, because of the space problem their application was unsuccessful.
“In the premises there is no space, the school applied for space several years ago and the government has promised to remove houses around the school to create space for extra mural activities but till now it has not happened. We don’t have enough budget to assist schools to have sports facilities. We still believe that should the school have facilities we can be the best and produce players that can represent the country”, said Radebe.
With only 9 black players included in the 31-man springbok squad it is clear that transformation in rubgy is taking place at a very slow pace. According to the national education infrastructure management study released by the Department of Basic Education, 17% of schools lack any sporting facilities and the division between poor and rich schools persist despite 21 years of democracy. Last year the South African rugby union announced that by 2019, 50% of the springbok team will be “players of colour”. At the current rate of change this is unlikely.