Poor state of sport facilities in Mdantsane

A basketball field in Mdantsane. Photo: Yamkela Sifingo.

Mdantsane is known for its love of sport, especially boxing and rugby, but a small audit of the facilities proves that they are in a poor state.
Mdantsane, the second biggest township in South Africa, is located between East London and King William’s town. “MDA” as it’s referred to by those who live in it, was established in the late 1960’s as a result of the East Bank/West Bank forced removal of residents, who were separated by the Buffalo River. Under the reign of white dominance, the native people fought a number of battles protecting their land, but they were defeated and driven off the river banks. Mdantsane was built as a concentration camp, where white industries draw labour, and enslave black people to keep their businesses running at low cost.

Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Like any other township, Mdantsane has great sports talent in various sporting codes such as rugby, football, cricket and karate, but boxing is dominant; hence it is called the “Boxing Mecca” of South Africa. The Mecca has produced boxing icons dating back to 1972 such as the great Nkosinathi “Happy Boy” Mgxaji, Welcome “Hawk” Ncitha (80’s), Vuyani “Beast” Bungu (90s), to the current generation of Zolani “Last Born” Tete, Noni “Stinging Bee” Tenge.

Mdantsane has success stories in various other sport codes because two Premier Soccer League referees, Athenkosi Madela and Lwandile Mfiki hail from this township.

National Basketball Convener Ayanda Mabedla who has spent time with the American NBA (National Basketball Association) comes from here and the area currently boasts two cricketers who were selected for the SA under-19 team that is on a tour in the West Indies. The township has also produced Springbok players such as Bangile Ncunyane and recently Mdantsane Karatekas won Gold in the SA Games national tournament in PE.

Training inside a school classroom. Photo: Yamkela Sifingo.

The state of facilities in Mdantsane is poor and the sports department should be ashamed that in 2016 the situation is still like the 1960s where there was only one standard sports field in Mdantsane, the Sisa Dukashe Stadium. It is the only maintained stadium that is well fenced and secured. It has shelter, change and rest rooms, grandstands and running water.

74 Football clubs playing in the local league and affiliated under the South African Football Association (SAFA), use only two playing grounds. There is no maintenance more than cutting the grass once a year. However, the sports fraternity knows that an amount of R4-million to upgrade stadiums has vanished out of SAFA’s hands.

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There are also two rugby fields in Mdantsane. One is at the Winter Rose Athletics Club, a sports hub supported by the Sports Department. The other field belongs to Swallows Rugby Club, located at N.U.1 in Mdantsane.

The lack of an adequate indoor sports centre is also a problem. High profile world champion boxers who are born and raised in Mdantsane defend their titles at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg. This challenge was brought to the attention of the provincial Sport Department by the Eastern Cape Boxing Promoters Association (ECBPA) a month ago. Athletes around the township are also disappointed, that the SASCOC-endorsed Fitness Joint at Mdantsane has been closed for two months due to financial constraints.

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