Basketball courts bring communities together

Mlindeli Mdlalose from Uhlanga Trading with Katie Smit and Mo Msibi from Kenneth Gardens Youth Society.

THE Kenneth Gardens Youth Society (KGYS), which is made up of small group of residents from the housing estate in Umbilo, are sharing their vision to bring people in Kenneth Gardens and the surrounding communities together, by hosting a basketball tournament at the tennis courts in Rey Keyte Place, off Sphiwe Zuma (Queen Mary) Avenue, Umbilo on Friday 30 March from 8.30am to 4pm.

The KGYS, chaired by Mo Msibi, was recently granted permission by the municipality to make use of the courts and the intrepid team managed to get basketball hoops sponsored.

Katie Smit, the Glenwood representative of KGYS said she was inspired by the team who were motivated and determined to make a difference in the community. She said she had met Mo after organising a clean-up at her block of flats in Lena Ahrens Road.

“I was humbled by what Mo was doing and realised we could have a symbiotic relationship, there was such an opportunity for the coming together of the communities of Glenwood and Kenneth Gardens,” she said.

Mo and Katie worked together to get access to the tennis courts. Their first step was to approach Councillor Mmabatho Tembe. She put them in touch with Garth Kloppenborg from the Parks Department who asked them to put together a proposal of their vision for the tennis courts. A couple of months after they sent in the proposal, Mo, who was working as a waiter, met resident Lesley Pratten.

“I noticed Lesley’s son was wearing basketball kit and as the sport is one of my passions, I started chatting to her. She mentioned they were looking for a court to play on and I shared with her our plans to get the courts up and running,” said Mo.

ALSO READ: Youth initiative cleans up image of Kenneth Gardens

“You can’t help but feel Mo’s passion,” said Lesley, adding that she and her son had been discussing the need to give back, and felt it was time they got physically involved in something in the community. “This sounded like the right project. I popped in to see Garth and got the ball rolling,” said Lesley.

“Lesley helped us put together a document which we resubmitted to the Parks Department. It took six weeks of chasing up before we received a letter on 5 December to giving us permission to use the courts. Lesley organised the basketball hoops through a sponsorship by parents at Clifton School. The day they went up, it was pouring with rain, but the kids from Kenneth Gardens were here playing, having the time of their lives, it was lovely watching them,” said Mo.

The first tournament was held in December and will be followed by the second tournament on Friday.

“We are trying to clean up the area and are speaking to people to support this on a monthly basis. We need someone to look after the courts, coach the children and we need funds to pay overheads and keep it running. Things are looking good and I am grateful for everything that is happening,” said Mo. He said a local company, Uhlanga Trading, was also helping clean up the area.

Mo has a big vision for the area, which includes the eventual establishment of two basketball courts and a girls’ netball court, a soccer pitch and a skate park area.

ALSO READ: Operation #PickItUp aims to clean up Glenwood

“It is a big project but I believe it will happen. My motto is if you have a goal in your mind, it will manifest. I believe this place will unite Kenneth Gardens and it will be a safe place for the children to play,” he said.

Future goals are to obtain sponsorship for floodlights so the youth can play until later in the evening and to develop the change rooms and club house. The KGYS is now registered under a local NGO with which it has partnered, and as it is registered with SARS, it will be able to issue tax certificates for donations received.

The community is encouraged to attend the tournament on Friday to watch action-packed basketball games, and to check out the bargains at the car boot sale at the event. There will also be a jumping castle and children’s games on the day.

During the Easter holidays the courts will be open from 10am to 3pm for basketball and netball coaching.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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