A Manenberg youth empowerment organisation has branched out to include a marching band, and the latter strongly contributes to developing well-balanced young people.
This is the opinion of the coach and founder, Ameen Somadien.
Mr Samodien started Sampros in 2006 with just a dancing group. Since then, they included singing, and four years ago introduced the marching band. The group also has soccer players. However, it is the marching squad attracting the young people to every practice, which they don’t mind doing every day.
Mr Samodien said as much as they have fun at Sampros, discipline is what is being demanded from all of its 50 members.
“We have children here from primary school level up to matric. In the afternoon when they arrive for practise, then the high school pupils assist the primary school children with their homework. They must all bring their reports to me, so that we can monitor who is making an effort in their academics and who not. If anybody steps out of line, we take disciplinary action. Their punishment usually involves extra chores – at the club and at home,” he said.
The children also assist with fund-raisers. The marching band recently acquired a new uniform, and it was all because the children worked very hard to raise funds.
“They amazed me with how eager they are to assist with fund-raisers. We sold roti and curry and for each roti they sold, they received a R5 each towards their uniform. They sold those rotis in record time,” Mr Samodien said.
They will have to get a new uniform, however, as Mr Samodien was informed that a tracksuit is not the standard uniform for a marching band. The idea of a tracksuit came from the young people in the group, he said.
The group also has a catering club, and they have assisted at various functions. Sampros has also performed with Paul Johnson at the Baxter Theatre. They are in high demand to perform at matric balls and proms, and even at funerals, Mr Samodien said.
Giovanni Bloens, 13, said he enjoys playing the drums in the marching band. He is also grateful to have met new friends, and enjoy the fellowship and the jokes they share.
Zaakirah Lottering, 13, said she met many kind people.
“I like it that we have discipline. We learnt to respect our elders. I also like it when we go on outings, and I have made new friends. I met my bestie here, when I joined Sampros in January this year,” she
Ward 46 councillor, Aslam Cassiem, was so impressed with what he saw, when Mr Samodien invited him to one of their practise sessions, that he invited some of the boys on a camp during the school holiday.
“This type of recreational activities are much needed in our community. However, academics are also important, so that the young people can become successful and come back to the community to support other young people,” Mr Cassiem said.
Sampros will be performing at the Cape Flats for Peace concert on Friday October 18, which will be held at the City Hall in Cape Town. They will also be part of the Gift of Music event on Saturday November 2 at the Dulcie September (Athlone) civic centre.
Mr Samodien said although the group is doing well, getting money to cover transport to get to events, as well as equipment and meals, is a constant challenge.
He has appealed to anyone that can assist, to contact him at 084 223 4288.