The Spaces for Sport project
The founder of the Grootbos Foundation Michael Lutzeyer, is a man with a commitment to investing time and effort into the local community through community development projects and recycling and environmental projects in South Africa. With the upcoming Soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and the lack of sporting facilities available in Gansbaai, it was Michael's dream to build a multipurpose facility which would serve as a community development project. This dream has been realised, and the Gansbaai Communal Sport Centre was officially opened on the 20 April 2008 by Overstrand Mayor, Mr Theodorus Beyleveldt, Barclays Group Vice Chairman, Mr Gary Hoffman, Absa Group Executive Director, Mr Happy Ntshingila, and representatives from the Grootbos Foundation. The event was aptly star studded with sporting celebrities including former Bafana Bafana player Mark Fish, Springbok player Chiliboy Ralepelle, Springbok coach Pieter de Villiers and Olympic silver medalist Elana Meyer.
The Grootbos Foundation believes that through the development of these facilities and thus the creation of opportunities for young people - especially those who are deprived of these opportunities, to participate in sport, have access to professional coaching, and learn about the environment, our vision of improved social integration and development of community will be realised. Sport is a wonderfully simple way to break down social barriers and bring people together on even terms. For the youth of our townships it also provides a healthy focus and inspires pride and determination to succeed.
The Spaces for Sport project has been made possible through fantastic collaboration between the Grootbos Foundation, ABSA, Barclays, Overstrand Municipality, the Barclays Premier League and the Western Cape Departement of Cultural Affairs and Sport. The project is also supported by the Football Association of South Africa. Tiger Turf UK supplied us with a full size, third generation FIFA standard artificial grass pitch, which is the first of its kind in Southern Africa. It is thanks to organisations like these that we can initiate such community sports programs to build a positive future for South Africa.
The site was chosen due to its unique position in the centre of three diverse communities in Gansbaai: Masakhane Township is comprised of about 12 000 black residents, the Blompark community has about 5000 coloured residents, and the Gansbaai white community consists of about 8000 residents. There was a dire need for good sporting facilities in the town with almost non-existent sporting facilities at Lukhanyo Primary School in Masakhane, limited facilities at Gansbaai Primary in Blompark, and 18 senior soccer clubs in Gansbaai who all had to share one pitch. This facility will therefore serve a much needed purpose in giving everyone around it the opportunity to play different kinds of sport whilst engaging with other communities. It is therefore vital that as many people as possible have access to the communal sports centre, and to facilitate this, training sessions are held several time a week where the coaches are often greeted by over a hundred kids!
The Grootbos Foundation will continue to manage and develop the project continues to concentrate on fundraising for the needs of the centre. The Green Futures Nursery for example, has promised to plant over a thousand trees at the complex as part of the foundations Future Trees Project. Lean Terblanche is our project co-ordinator and is tireless in her efforts to organise training sessions, matches and leagues for the teams. She operates as the Football Foundation of South Africa, and has strong links with the Barclays Premier League and South African Football Association. Many of the youngsters that participate don’t have the privilege of owning their own kit, and we are grateful to be able to use kind contributions from all our supporters and donors to make things possible.
As conservation of the environment is deep in the roots of the Grootbos Foundation, it is important for us to promote as much environmental and health education as we can. To accomplish this we are starting a project whereby our young sportsmen and women can contribute to conservation and recycling by binging in recyclable items, and in exchange receive points which can be used to “buy” their kit. Thus motivation towards a cleaner town is created, which will also induce pride in the local communities.