By Anees Teladia
It is no secret that many citizens in Cape Town are of the opinion that sporting complexes and facilities in some poorer communities are inadequately maintained and protected. The difficulties faced by the well known Collegians Rugby Club have been put under the spotlight after complaints that the club is being forced to travel outside of their area in order to make use of the sporting facilities of other rugby clubs. This has made it necessary for the club to host “home” games in areas far away from Mitchells Plain.
The Collegians Rugby Club is essentially “homeless” as a result of the poor maintenance and vandalism of the Lentegeur Sport Complex. Despite several efforts aimed at having the issue addressed, the club is yet to receive any positive outcomes or guarantees by the relevant officials.
“This is now the first time we’re starting our season without a home ground, due to poor maintenance. The City of Cape Town failed us dismally in not maintaining the field. I also want to take the opportunity to make it clear that since this happened, a lot of political parties want to give their support…but the club has a clear mandate: no political party has a mandate to speak on behalf of the club,” said Amien Brink, president of Collegians Rugby Club.
Collegians Rugby Club is an institution in the rugby fraternity in the Western Cape which has survived immense challenges since its establishment in the 1950’s. The club was started in District Six but had to relocate due the Apartheid forced removals and the Group Areas Act. The club has a history of displacement and yet survived its difficult economic and social circumstances.
Brink said the problem of poor maintenance is nothing new and has been worsening for years.
“This problem is coming on for a couple of years now. It’s been a huge financial burden on the club due to travelling and so forth. We have 14 junior teams ranging from under 7 to under 19 and 4 senior teams. It puts a tremendous financial burden onto the club,” said Brink.
“We are willing to assist the Council wherever we can, but each year it’s the same story. We’ve been affiliated to our complex for more than 40 years. We survived the Group Areas Act. I can tell you now, we won’t leave Lentegeur Complex as it is.”
“We ask the Council for guarantees – seeing as we are going on a break for Ramadan Inshaa Allah…what we are asking for is not unrealistic.”
Brink added that if there was any political will, this issue would have been dealt with swiftly.
“If the City really wants to help a community, they can. We are rate payers. We pay taxes. The unfortunate part of this whole thing is that we feel we are not properly serviced,” said Brink.
“We have a clear message: where service delivery is concerned, they [the City and the Council] failed us. Not just the club, but the schools and the community.”
“We escalated the issue through the normal protocols and then to the Mayco members.”
The City’s Mayco member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien said the matter at hand is “not a complicated issue”.
“The community of Mitchells Plain deserves a fantastic facility because it [the facility] services such a big part of the community. There are a number of issues relating to the complex itself and far too often we do use the word vandalism, but unfortunately those are our realities,” he said.
“The issue with the Lentegeur Sports Complex is that it’s a massive facility. It services not only rugby, but soccer, previously cricket and also more recently a spinning club.”
“We have visited the complex just this last week for a different reason, but I shared with the mayor the challenges we are experiencing in terms of our ability to maintain such a large sporting complex.”
Badroodien confirmed that there will be a meeting taking place on the 30th April regarding the Lentegeur Sports Complex – a meeting wherein he undertakes to provide the rugby club with guarantees on finally resolving the matter.