New basketball court for Athlone

Shooting hoops at the new basketball court in Athlone.

Youth can now shoot hoops at a new basketball court at the Bridgetown Community Centre.

The refurbishment of the Cornflower Sports Field basketball court was funded by the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) Africa. WPDI founder and CEO Forest Whitaker and NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams joined deputy mayor Eddie Andrews to officially open it on Wednesday November 22.

The WPDI and NBA Africa also plan to develop the community centre to offer free computer lessons; counselling; and conflict-resolution, peace-building and business training to the youth, said Mr Whitaker.

Twenty junior teams from the Athlone and surrounding areas will be recruited and trained for basketball. Those players would have access to the computer and life-skills training, said Mr Whitaker.

“We seek to offer basketball as part of our Peace Through Sports Program. We will soon be developing the community centre here as well. We hope we can continue our long-standing relationship with the City of Cape Town as we both share the same goal and passion in improving the lives of our communities.”

Mr Williams, said: “The people of Cape Town are hungry for the game of basketball. This court is your court. The NBA helps to grow the game so that boys and girls can play the sport and also learn values that will help them transform themselves and society. We are very pleased to bring this game to Bridgetown in Athlone.”

Mr Andrews said that youth needed to seize such opportunities.

“If you do not grab hold of such opportunities, you will remain a statistic in this country. You must make the choice to grab every single opportunity that comes your way. A child in sport is a child out of court. You do not have to be a member of any of these gangs or sell substances or rob people. You can choose this sports path and you will reap the rewards in the long-term. We would like to thank Mr Whitaker, through WPDI, and NBA Africa for partnering with the City on this initiative, and we hope that this basketball court will go a long way in developing our youth,” he said.

Bridgetown Community Development Forum chairman Chris Osborne said the community was thrilled with the basketball court.

“To have the Whitaker foundation come in and do this for our community is so historic. We hope that the City will come on board and further develop sport in our community. We feel seen and acknowledged in our community and are really excited that things can only really get better for us going forward.

“Sports development is extremely important for youth in our community. We are so grateful for this.”

An aerial view of the new basketball court in Athlone.
Deputy mayor Eddie Andrews, NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams and Forest Whitaker cut the ribbon.
Young players from Athlone and surrounds warm up for a game of basketball.