The Blode Street “Battlefield” in Lavender Hill was buzzing on Saturday when about 250 children came to take part in a fun day organised by the Lavender Hill Sport and Recreation Foundation.
The mini soccer tournament and entertainment day was aimed at restoring peace and hope to the community plagued by gang violence.
According to Mark Nicholson, the director of the foundation, they noted the frustration and fear children have been experiencing since lockdown started just over a year ago, and decided to revive the spirit of the community with a series of events.
Starting with the fun day, the foundation plans to hold similar events every month.
Mark says children in Lavender Hill need to be reminded that there is life beyond their circumstances and they can feel safe and be happy in their community.
He says this is a message they also preach to gangsters and often try to engage with the skollies as “they are part of the community”.
“We hope they get the message and stop these shootings,” says Mark.
He says there have been no shooting incidents since last week and are hopeful this could become the norm in the community.
“Everyone enjoyed themselves and kids were excited to show off their skills on the field. It has been peaceful since then.”
Children aged six to 17 formed teams of five and played against each other during the games.
They were later treated to gifts, food and live entertainment.
Shayden Hope, 13, whose father and uncle were shot dead on the notorious field in Blode Street in 2017, was among the participants.
“It was lekker. Everyone was happy. I enjoyed the marshmallows and being safe outside on the field,” he said.
Among other plans to bring about change, Mark says they want to build a youth centre on the veld to prevent skollies from using it as a battle ground.
The Lavender Hill Sport and Recreation Foundation is a non-profit organisation relying on sponsorships and donations to run its various youth empowerment programmes.
Anyone willing to donate may contact Mark on 063 567 3739.
Nomzamo Yuku | [email protected]