THE Buffalo Flats astro turf is alive with screams of excitement and cheers when children begin playing hockey at 8am every Saturday.
Successful development coaching for children between the ages of five and 13 has been taking place for the past 14 years, resulting in many youngsters being selected for Border, receiving bursaries and going on to represent South Africa.
Hockey development coordinator Ursula Trantall said: “This is an opportunity for young people to be trained with good coaching. We develop the whole child and prepare them for the future by teaching them basic life skills and assertion. Many players get bursaries to go to [former] model C schools.
“We have been successful against all odds. The programme is run by the management team of the astro.”
Coach Charlene Marajh said: “We see these children as individuals. The ones that are on the fields every Saturday are the ones that are selected for Border. We work on their skill and arrange them in groups according to their levels.”
Trantall said: “Zimkhita Smayile and Luciya Majekula both received bursaries and are now playing for Hudson High School.
“Bianca Wood was selected for the South African U16A side and also plays for Clarendon High School.
“Junaad Ruiters and Tersius Leeuw, who started at Buffalo Flats Primary, are both playing for the Eastern Cape U16 side.
“Chanelle Raubenheimer is playing for the SA U21 side and attends University of Johannesburg. These are just a few of our success stories.”
Parent Ranato Jonas said he brought his two children and three friends every Saturday. “The girls are excited about the programme. The coaches are keen for development. We are here every Saturday, regardless of the weather.
“ I do my part because I see the commitment from the coaches and the girls. They have got my children committed. They love it so much that they want to come here during the week to practice,” Jonas said.
Trantall said: “It is wonderful to see the joy on the children’s faces when they come here. It also keeps children away from drugs and a bad life [that has gripped the Buffalo Flats community].
“ Some only come for the orange juice and hug. At the end of the year we host a Christmas party and they all get participation certificates and enjoy a good time.”
Robyn Ntuli, 10, of Buffalo Flats Primary, said: “I like coming here to learn new things like dribbling and stopping the ball. The teachers are friendly.”
Meschack Adams, 12, who plays for Border, said the club helped him develop. He keeps coming back for more hockey and fun times.
The development programme is free of charge and members of the management team use their own funds to supply treats and necessities.