Home turf advantage

Hanover Park LFA executive committee members, from left, Farouk Gillifelleon, James Thornton and Charles Samuels on site before the new artificial turf was installed.

Lack of a proper sports field meant football in Hanover Park was, for many years, without a suitable home, which had a negative effect in the development of talent and the game itself.

Youngsters had few options in terms of where to go in order to hone their skills and nurture their talent.

Playing in the street, rather than in a proper sport field, was the main alternative for many of these budding footballers.

That, however, is something of the past as some positive developments have been taking place in the last few months.

A new artificial turf has just been completed and, for the first time in many years, football has a place to call home, giving the players a platform to express their talents.

This also means that, for the first time in a long time, the Hanover Park Local Football Association (LFA) now has proper facilities to host their matches.

The construction of the artificial turf was made possible by the Fifa 2010 World Cup Legacy Trust. One of the trust’s aims was to see communities benefiting from the country hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup, by providing artificial pitches.

Site C in Khayelitsha as well as Kronendal and Hangberg in Hout Bay are among the areas which have already had their artificial pitches installed and it was now Hanover Park’s turn. The turf, which was ready for use earlier this year, took almost a year to complete.

After many years in football wilderness, the LFA got back to action two years ago. There were many challenges but, with time, things slowly got better as a number of people and stakeholders put their heads together in an attempt to find creative solutions.

The LFA’s public relations officer, Charles Samuels, said the people of Hanover Park will now be able to mark Saturday afternoons, for instance, as days to head down to the turf for a game of football.

The artificial turf’s state of readiness has been tested a number of times already… and it passed with flying colours. It successfully hosted two rounds of Safa Cape Town-sanctioned Coke Cup matches earlier this year.

Samuels said the aim was to continue hosting successful events on top of the LFA’s league and cup matches.

He said credit should go to Safa Cape Town for giving them the opportunity to host those matches and the people of Hanover Park who came in their numbers. He emphasised the importance of community involvement because, he said, the hard work being done means nothing if the community doesn’t come on board in terms of using and taking care of the facilities.

“We want to see people coming in their numbers. This is their facility and they should claim their constitutional right to have access to sport and recreation facilities. Everything that’s going to happen here will be community-driven. We know that these facilities, with contributions from the community, will play a big role in fighting the social ills that we face,” said Samuels.

The challenge for now, he said, is to convince more people that their safety, among other concerns, will be a priority especially in and around the facility.

“We are aware that, because of the dynamics of the place – such as crime – people didn’t show much interest earlier on. So, we had to appeal to the community to work with us because everything done so far – such as the completion of the turf – is part of the work in progress. The road ahead is still long and we need to continue working together,” he said.