A Hanover Park resident has given up her free time to keep young boys and girls off the streets and help them pursue their passion for soccer.
In January this year, Loretta Arendze noticed how children in the court where she stays had to stop playing soccer every time they heard a gunshot due to ongoing gang violence in the area.
She then decided to start a soccer club called Making a Change, and now has about 100 girls and boys from all ages who compete in games on Sundays at a field in Blomvlei Road in Hanover Park.
Ms Arendze said she developed a passion for the game when she was a child as her brothers were fond of soccer and she often kicked ball with them.
She said this year her sons Meachalle, 19, and Chad 13, asked her to coach their team.
“I just got a calling from God and that is when I knew I had to do it. Sport is very good for children and they love to play soccer, it is all they can talk about and they want to be good at it. When I come out of church on a Sunday, they are already waiting for me. I just love the game and I attended all my boys’ soccer games,” she said.
Shannon Cadam, 13, who plays in the under-14 category, started playing the game when he was 7.
“I play defender right back, and when I play I feel so happy and ready for the next game,” he said.
Ms Arenze’s daughter, Kaylen, said although there are many opportunities for children to get involved in sport clubs in the area, it is difficult for them to walk to training sessions or matches because gang violence could erupt at any time.
“There is also a huge lack of leadership, especially from fathers for their sons. Most of the children have no one to look up to. They have no one to motivate them to do better at school or get involved with sport,” she said.
Ms Arendze said although the club is up and running, the children are still in need of donations such as soccer boots and kit.
“Some of them play in broken shoes and shorts and it would be so nice if they could have their own gear and look good while they are playing,” she said.
To help, call Loretta Arendze on 084 883 5709.