A Parklands soccer coach is roping in his community to help change young people’s lives for the better.
Nick Meyer started Parklands Football Club in November 2016 with 30 children from the neighbourhood. Now there are more than 100 young boys and young men playing for the club. Most of the players are under the age of 14 and there are boys as young as 5 in the junior teams.
The club doesn’t just teach the youngsters how to play soccer: it’s a support system for many of them who come from some of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.
Practices are at the Parklands Sports Club fields, and the club falls under the Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association, which requires that at least 10% of members of its affiliate teams come from underprivileged areas or backgrounds.
Mr Meyer said 30% of his players met that requirement and the club had forged partnerships with various organisations to support its projects and get the youngsters to their games.
“We work with a few organisations in the area like Peace Home, Parklands Homeowners’ Association (PHOA) and a few other businesses. We believe it’s very important to get as many organisations involved with uplifting the youngsters in our area and surrounding areas which will ultimately uplift the communities,” Mr Meyer said.
Aziza Nolan is the founder of Peace Home, which is a safe haven for children who are victims of abuse. Two boys from her home are part of the club.
“We got involved with the club because we could see that Nick and his team are trying to unite the community and most importantly, help these kids stay off the streets and use their time in a constructive manner.
“I love that these kids feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and will help them grow into responsible and active adults. For their development, it’s important for youngsters to get into sports,” she said.
Ms Nolan is a qualified first aider and often offers her services to the team on match days, and Peace Home also lets the club use its bus to ferry the players to their away games.
Mr Meyer said the club was not looking for handouts but rather wanted to build relationships with people in the community who could lend a helping hand.
“It would be great to get one of the businesses or private residents who can help out with wi-fi at the club,” he said.
“This would assist some of the kids who don’t have access to the internet in their homes to come a little bit earlier before practice and research projects they have to do.
“Some of the older guys don’t have licences, so we would appreciate if people can help these guys get those kinds of things too. Some of the local businesses could also help with employing some of our guys part-time,” he said.
PHOA chairperson Pam Daneels said: “We believe in what Nick is doing with the club and the kids there. I’m a firm believer in that something like a sport is quite important in building a strong and inclusive society.
“This will take a community effort and I know all this is possible through sports,” she said.
Contact Parklands Football Club coach Nick Meyer at 082 445 7501 for more information.