ET Radebe tourney likely to grow to other areas

Fidelitas’ Kinkie Sehlapelo plays a pass pending her school’s netball final against Diepdale High, during the ET Radebe Netball Schools tourney in Diepkloof. Image JACOB MAWELA.

Held in honour of the late local community builder, Emily Tlaleng Radebe and enabled by her world-renown son and former Leeds United and Bafana Bafana skipper, Lucas “Rhoo” Radebe – the tournament also serves as the former defender’s way of ploughing back into his roots in a manner offering development and purpose to local girls and boys.

A brainchild of the ex-player’s brand named Countrywide Sports Limited and endorsed by stakeholders such as the Gauteng Provincial government’s sport and education departments – the initiative’s aim, in Radebe’s words, is to address social ills through sport and empowerment of youth whilst its vision lends itself to growing beyond Soweto and ultimately realising the participation of primary schools also.

Described as a very humble soul who had played sport at a high level and given back to the community from which he was raised by Director for Schools Sport in Gauteng, Cedric Ranchor, Radebe’s founding of the sporting event appears to carry just about the required clout given that he has the backing of credible entities such as ABSA and Adidas – to mention but a few.

The tournament also continues the commendable work begun by the person it is named after since Radebe’s mother was a matriarch who, when she was not raising her sizeable brood, also gave selflessly of her time and effort by founding a netball team named Vixen Lavita [which has won three tournaments thus far] as well as a soccer team.

On Youth Day, sporting fans, school principals and teachers and service providers descended on the Diepkloof Zone 5 Soccer fields to witness eight netball and football teams participating in a knockout system consisting of two streams of four teams each – with the format followed by semi-finals and finals.

All teams were issued with official sponsored kit to play in; all schools were to receive certificates for participation; there were trophies for goalkeeper and top scorers; runners up stood to receive silver and bronze medals and winners: a floating trophy and gold medals.

The organisers meant business as, for instance, judged by one of the points in the Code of Conduct applicable to the order of things which stipulated that no assault would be tolerated since it was a police matter for which they [the organisers] reserved the right to take the matter to the police.  That needn’t had been evoked since the attendees were in their best behaviour and in any case, there was substantive security personnel in visibility.

At typical dusty grounds Radebe fondly reminisced to a media contingent as having honed his and late homeboy, John “Shoes” Moshoeu’s skills, some current crop of players such as the Supersport United duo of Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Thuso Phala – in addition to Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs’ foremost fans, Dejan Miladinovic and Masilo Machaka, SAFA CEO, Dennis Mumble, Joyous Celebration’s Lindelani Mkhize – came out in full force.

Similarly too were Radebe’s kids, Owami and Hugo, numerous siblings, nephews and nieces as well as former Bafana Bafana kit manager and Countrywide Sports Limited chief operating officer, Yusef Kodisang – in full voice and support.

The next generation of the Radebe clan in the form of Rhoo’s son, Hugo, a left and right-wing forward in the under-19s of Bidvest Wits was even on display as he turned out for Diepkloof Leeds United in a legends game preceding the semi-finals.

It made for a boisterous and screaming affair as a coterie of his cousins yelled out in encouragement from the touchline whenever he was on the ball.

All teams’ players were well taken care of, from the presence of paramedics in attendance to being catered with food and beverage packs, whilst elaborate stretch tents next to the netball courts housed the VIP lot.

In the netball final match, Diepdale High edged out Fidelitas [whose school happens to be situated right next to the sport fields] 16 – 10 whilst the footballing finale contested by Madibane and Diepdale, saw the boys emulating their female schoolmates by running out 5 – 4.

Albeit, theirs had to come via a penalty shootout after having laboured through 30 minutes of each half.

Kinkie Sehlapelo, a 14 year old grade 9 pupil, netball silver medallists, Fidelitas, deservedly walked away with the Best Goal Shooter trophy.

A fair looking lass with a confident swagger, she made a case of being destined for greater things in the particular sporting code.  And something to note regarding the tournament is that, although the participating teams were registered as schools, some teachers at the event let slip that the bulk of the players’ preparations were actually honed at clubs without the jurisdiction of their respective schools – that, since the local schools actually do not have sport tutoring, training and coaching structures in place.

Disappointing that state of affairs, since the implication is that township schools are unlikely to produce the likes of Kagiso Rabada given their sole and naïve focus on matters academic.

In fact one of the teachers was genuinely lamenting this gap in how the public schools system has been structured, up to this point in the democratic dispensation.

So that, whilst the likes of Radebe may be doing their bit with regard to the roll-out of their visions for posterity, if the clueless bureaucrats continue not seizing the cudgels by mostly apportioning the burden of developing of talents on former Model-C and private schools– the people who mostly suffer stand to be the township public schoolers – as of now!

Pending the netball final, Ranchor, moving to-and-fro excitedly on the side-lines of the court, kept clamouring regarding the evident qualities of one particular petite player from Diepdale whilst expressing his frustration at how she hadn’t been picked by talent-spotters who were assembling players with potential for a multi-regions camp commencing the weekend of the tourney, in Ekurhuleni.

Inspite of self-inflicted challenges from political quarters, visions of patriots such as Radebe roll-on and through Countrywide Sports Limited, which is five years in existence, the former Kaizer Chiefs defender, whom even a bullet inflicted some time ago in the very neighbourhood of Diepkloof, couldn’t discourage from realising his sporting and life dreams – already confidently expresses intentions of branching out his initiative to other provinces beyond Gauteng, as well as encompassing the participation of primary schools also.

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