Kamaqhekeza’s Green Field of Dreams
When you ask the young children who practice football each day at the Kamaqhekeza Stadium to tell you their names, the answers are surprising. And inspiring. One is called Messi and another calls himself Nani. “I’m Mario Balotelli,’ says a third and introduces us to his friends Xavi, Iniesta and Michael Essien.
These young footballers have big dreams and an appetite for hard work and training to go with it. And now they have a DreamField worthy of their efforts and dreams.
Back in October 2011 we told you about our plans to build a grass field in the Mpumalanga community of Kamaqhekeza, in the south-east corner of South Africa, close to the borders with both Swaziland and Mozambique. At the end of February 2012 we launched the facility in joyous style, with 22 school teams taking to the newly-laid grass, in new shirts and shorts, and out-of-the-box boots. And that DreamEvent took our spending in communities and schools past the R30-million mark.
There had been a soccer stadium at Kamaqhekeza for many years, but it was a place of dust and neglect – although that never seemed to stop young people playing there. That changed when a local organisation called the Nkomazi Communities Development Foundation (NCDF) decided it was time for dreams to grow.
The NCDF – a group of community and business leaders led by Oom Jacob De Villiers –managed to raise R636 000 in the area and then asked Dreamfields to help. Back in 2009, with funding from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), we had built a beautiful field in the Driekoppies community, which falls under the same municipality, Nkomazi.
“There are more than 50 villages in the Nkomazi Municipality and the only stadium with a good field is at Driekoppies,” says Kenneth Phiri, Corporate Social Investment Officer at Tsb Sugar, which is a key economic and social citizen in the area. “Teams would be spending around R800 on transport to get there.”
Tsb had already invested heavily in one of South Africa’s biggest and best-run amateur competitions the Selati Cup. “We are investing in young people,” Phiri says. “Soccer is also about networking and creating new social relationships, making new friends through football. Whoever plays soccer moves beyond one school or one village and connects with other young people. And they end up talking about a lot of different things.”
The dream of a green field at Kamaqhekeza inspired an extraordinary partnership. The DBSA rewarded the NCDF’s fundraising with a contribution of R385 000. Servest Turf, our partner in building other DreamFields, cut their construction costs to the bone. And Tsb weighed in with equipment, fertiliser and assistance on the earthworks.
There were contributions towards DreamBags from local branches of Standard, Absa and Toyota; from Old Mutual and from Mamli Projects. And the non-profit organisation Youth Zones, which does football and computer training in the community, helped run a coaching course for teachers from each of the 22 schools in the area.
At the launch, the 380 young footballers who took part were watched by many hundreds more who packed the stands. This inspiration for the future, in part, is what makes dreams grow. Among those who played, the memories of a special day will drive them on when their DreamLeagues start in April. “For most of the children it was their first time to put on boots and wear a full kit and play on a green turf,” Phiri says. “We must now build on this and keep exposing them to well-organised football.
“This is not just about the facilities but about growing the people as well. NCDF has played a magnificent role in getting so many companies to plough back. They will see their investment bearing fruit for many years to come.”
To view pictures of a memorable day, click here: https://picasaweb.google.com/TheDreamfieldsProject/NCDFKamaqhekezaDreamEvent20120225