Manenberg played host to its first ever drill marching competition on Saturday August 3, with 20 schools and community teams competing for top honours.
According to Saeed Ruiters, president of the Western Cape Provincial Marching Federation, this is the fastest growing sport in the province.
“Every second week, a new school comes on board. We are inundated with requests to train the squads to get them ready for competitions. The standard is being raised all the time and the participation is growing by huge numbers,” Mr Ruiters said.
On Saturday the atmosphere was electric and even the weather played along when the competitors and their supporters gathered on the sports field of Phoenix High School.
It was clear that lots of work had gone into preparing the choreography and getting the children to march in sync.
Trophies for the best dressed, best drum major, best grand march past, and exhibition march, lined the judges’ table.
Some of the benefits of being part of a marching team, according to Ismail Suliman Chothia, the chairperson of the Western Cape Provincial Marching Federation, include learning about teamwork, belonging to a structure, discipline and respect.
“We are ultimately building leadership. They are all neatly attired, as the dress inspection counts for points,” Mr Chothia added.
Mr Ruiters said marching was now a recognised sport in the Western Cape, and they hoped to have a team at each school in the province by next year.
The federation works in partnership with the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement Safety Resource Officers, based at schools in Manenberg.
Even though their focus is on ensuring safety for the pupils, their members have now also come on board to train marching teams.
“We can see the difference, not just on the field, but academically as well. The cadets have to wear a uniform, and they know they must set an example, now they are the new role models at school.
“Most of the children’s families cannot afford to buy, for example, a pair of school shoes, but we will collect R5s among ourselves until we have enough to buy a pair. Coming to watch the competition, it might look easy when they present themselves, but there is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes,” said Inspector Darrel Smith.
Ward 46 councillor Aslam Cassiem thanked the organisers of the event.
“If a child has discipline, he or she can do anything they put their minds to – be it to do their homework, or to be on time.
“I would also like to urge parents to support their children involved in this sport, as it is protecting them from gangsterism,” Mr Cassiem said.