Cape Town - Lavender Hill kids have a guardian angel who wants to see them flourish.
An optician and hypno-therapist, who formed a youth organisation in the area to keep children off the streets, is now teaching young girls how to play netball.
For over a decade, drag queen Ralph Bouwers, 46, aka ZsaZsa, called the United Kingdom, where he worked as a dispensing optician and hypnotherapist, home.
Last year Ralph returned home to Lavender Hill, where he grew up. Through his NPO, called “The Guardians of National Treasure”, and with 15 volunteers, he has since started a soccer club, baking classes and extramural activities like chess, to occupy youth at risk.
Like many Cape Flats communities, Lavender Hill suffers under the scourge of gangsterism and drug abuse, unemployment and associated socio-economic problems.
Ralph and his team are now teaching girls how to play sport, and in particular netball, as a healthy outlet, as often these young girls become involved with boys and men, and drop out of school due to pregnancy.
Ralph, who is a veteran netball player himself, on Workers Day hosted a netball tournament, and invited several other teams, including the Lavender Hill Netball Club and Ashley Court United Club, to team up.
The match was held on the field in Blode Street, regarded as a gangster battlefield by residents. Ralph previously hosted other sporting events on the field. And, he says, it’s all an attempt “to take back our community”.
Dressed to impress in a pink shorts showing off his long, toned legs, Ralph and a team of veterans took on the other teams, while also scouting for talent, in the hope of forming a professional league of netball players soon.
“The Blode is a place where there used to be battles and now we have turned it into a positive place where children can play and where people can meet,” he says.
“We formed the Lavender Hill Football Club last year with boys as young as eight years old and we want to do the same for the girls and have started teaching them netball.
“This to also teach them about discipline and we will also touch on things like teenage pregnancy.
“Once we move forward, we want to form a league of netball players.”
In January, Ralph offered free haircuts to over 100 boys to make them smart for school.