By Tauriq Hassen
Hangberg sports clubs united last week and marched to the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre to lay down their demands.
Damaged playing surfaces, poor lighting, lack of fencing, dog poo in the dressing rooms and a host of other issues affecting the sports complex were on their list of complaints.
Hangberg resident and the brains behind the Sunday League taking place at the sports complex, Ricardo Phillips, said it was time for the City to listen to their demands.
“We are making things happen here at this complex. We are keeping so many kids off the street, we are bringing so many people together and the City can at least hear us out and help us make this a better place for us all,” he said.
The Sunday League has been attracting attention from far and wide, with several people packing into sports complex to catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s stars.
“We have so much talent on display here and all we want is to be able to give our talent proper platforms and infrastructure to work from,” Mr Phillips said.
He explained that when their franchise teams need to play league fixtures, they are unable to use the sports complex in their community and are forced to use the fields at Mandela Park.
“It’s unfair to them because they have this facility in their community but they cannot use it and it’s frustrating to know that,” he added.
The atmosphere outside the sports and recreation building was tense, with club representatives veting their frustration and emphasising the role of the complex played in keeping the Hangberg community together.
Lee Smith, representing FC Hout Bay, said the community were playing their part by fixing up the facility, but accused the City of failing to “meet us halfway”.
“We are having to do all the work. That facility is getting worse and worse and nothing is being done to improve the situation. We are having to scratch in our own pockets to make things happen and we have had enough now,” he said.
Along with the other clubs, Mr Smith demanded that the City arrange a meeting within seven days.
“We don’t want to keep resorting to protesting, but we feel like it’s the only time we get the City’s attention. We will make our voices heard because we really have had enough now,” Mr Smith said.
According to the City, the facility was severely vandalised, with several nets, lights, parts of the astro, poles, roofing and other things stolen. The stolen nets had been replaced with diamond-mesh fencing, but that too had been stolen (“Sports facility takes a beating”, Sentinel News, November, 22, 2019).
Hangberg resident and FC Hout Bay member, Earl Schutt, claims to have spent nearly R10 000 on the facility, hiring machines and providing paint for lines to be drawn on the field.
“We are doing everything we can to keep this facility going and it really is helping by keeping so many people off the streets and away from the trouble,” he said.
Addressing the City, he added: “What more must we do? All we want is for our facility to improve and we don’t want to have to protest for it. We want a proper sit-down to discuss this facility for the benefit of all our clubs in this community.”
He was also frustrated that his club’s third division fixtures could not be played on their home turf.
“We have to pack up our things and go to Mandela Park fields. We want to be able to play our home game on our home field, because it’s unfair that our players must leave their community to other fields when they have one right here,” Mr Schutt said.
FC Cuzins’ Samuel Da Silva said the City had ignored requests from the community, which was why members had taken it upon themselves to improve the facility.
“The toilets are a mess and one cloak room even has dog poo in it, and the dogs owners are still sleeping in the community hall next to the field. We have asked all these questions and we are not getting the answers.”
He added that Hangberg had an abundance of talent and that better facilities were needed “urgently”.
“The clubs cannot even kick the ball into the fence and then it comes back flat. You how many balls clubs have lost up here? We need to be fixed right away,” he added.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said he was aware of the meeting held last week and had facilitated a meeting with representatives of all the associations and clubs using the Hangberg Sports Complex, as well as officials from the City’s Sports and Recreation next week.
“The Hout Bay United Football Club has kindly committed to using one of their vehicles to ferry the members to the CBD and I’m certain that we will be able to find one another and a way forward,” Mr Quintas said.
At the time of publication, Mr Smith acknowledged the request for a meeting next week by Mr Quintas, to be held at the Civic Centre, with a date yet to be confirmed.