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Residents up in arms over sports field

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Area earmarked for housing development

RESIDENTS in Floors are up in arms after the Sol Plaatje Municipality prohibited the use of a recreation area, which was developed by the community in an attempt to “keep the youth off the streets”, after it was earmarked for a housing development.

Previously a barren piece of veld, the area in question has recently been developed by community members and now hosts a sports field, where youngsters from the community can safely gather and participate in sports activities.

Chadwin Kock, from the Save-a-Soul Foundation, said that the NPO had developed the area in order to “provide young people with a safe space, away from the streets”. 

During 2017, Save-a-Soul, with the assistance of community members, started with a massive clean-up of the area and the development of a sports field, where young people can participate in soccer, tennis and rugby activities.

Kock said the objectives of Save-a-Soul was to create community awareness with regard to safety, crime prevention and the protection of the community, while seeking to unite the city of Kimberley in creating a stable and crime-free environment.

He added that for the community of Floors there was a total absence of any recreational area, leaving many young people on the streets and in danger of becoming involved in criminal activities and drug use.

“Since 2017 we have been hosting sports programmes every day in the developed area and have seen massive interest and participation by our young community members. However, at the start of 2018 the municipality informed us that the piece of land had been sold and would be developed for housing … but left us with no alternative options as to where to go,” Kock said.

A visit to the area yesterday revealed a cleaned-up piece of land with hand-drawn soccer field lines and no goal posts, but the young people gathered there said that this was more than the municipality had ever provided them with.

“This place is where we gather, play sports and learn about teamwork. It is a safe space where we are out of reach of criminals and drug dealers. It is not much but it is all we have and we can feel proud of this place as we helped to create it. If the municipality wants to chase us away from here, they should provide us with an alternative space,” the residents said.

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, yesterday confirmed that the area, known as the “Floors Corridor”, had been earmarked for the development of 130 low-cost housing units and that business plans had already been submitted, while the municipality was now waiting for national funding.

He did add that while the Floors Corridor had never been a “formal” recreation area, the community was free to petition council to look at available sites where recreation services could possibly be provided.