As chilly as Sunday morning had been, I was hoping it would not rain as I looked forward to watching the five-a-side soccer matches organised by Streetwise Sports. Barney Stevens is the man behind Streetwise Sports – an organisation responsible for the league that plays every Sunday at lunchtime. They also have coaching programmes that seek to assist participants in becoming certified coaches. The programme runs on Thursday at the Cape Town Central Library. When I arrived at the Parade, the players who are mostly homeless, were preparing for the matches and setting up the goal posts. The teams were a mixture of South African and non-South African players.
The atmosphere at the Parade was jovial. In the day’s first match, Simba, a team of mostly Tanzanian players, lost to Born Frees 3-2. The second game saw Azam, a team made up of Tanzanian nationals, humiliate Yanga with a whooping 4-0 victory. Yanga consists of South African players who have participated in the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup is a network of 70 international partner organisations that use football to improve the lives of homeless people throughout the world.
The last game of the first round saw Barney and Friends beat Youth Solutions 3-2. The matches were intensely competitive. The second round of games commenced right after a lunch break. Another set of Simba players taught Yanga a football lesson with a 4-1 win. Born Frees played to a 5-5 draw against Barney and Friends. Azam suffered a 4-1 loss to Youth Solutions.
I spoke to two young people who were part of the Born Frees team. Seun Ramakgabe (23), who stays at the Salvation Army in the CBD, said he was just passing by one Sunday at the Parade and saw people playing soccer and joined. “I love soccer and the atmosphere here. Coming here keeps my mind busy. I come here every Sunday,” Seun said. Moegammat Jardien, (16) who lives at the Bo-Kaap informal settlement the Kraal, met Barney Stevens when he was only eight years old. He has been part of the programme ever since. He says the programme has exposed him to great opportunities. It has also played a significant role in keeping him away from temptations to go back to a drug addiction plight he experienced in the past. “Through the programme, I have been to soccer trials and some job-shadowing at Ajax Cape Town,” he revealed. “I am a recovering addict and this environment keeps me away from bad things. Barney has helped me get into rehab and back to school,” he continued.
The day was well-spent and there was a big number of top class goals scored. Overall, the football was fantastic and wonderful to watch.
Streetwise Sports is doing some phenomenal work in assisting homeless people around the CBD and empowering them through sport and education.
Images by: Zukisa Jay Mambumbu.