Egoli Squash earlier this week announced a training programme aimed at inner city children.Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips
Egoli Squash earlier this week announced a training programme aimed at inner city children.Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips

The Joburg CBD parks, empty stands, parks and parking areas are set to become sportsgrounds for the youth.

On Monday a project called “street racket” was launched by Egoli Squash.

The organisation said the benefits were that no specific court or expensive equipment is required and mobile courts can be set up anywhere within minutes on any surface.

All that is needed is some chalk to draw the court on solid ground, and a simple racket.

“We are tuning parking lots, open spaces and any areas into an active sports opportunity. We are turning the inner city into an active sports ground 24 hours per day,” said Glenn Lazarus, director of Egolish Squash.

On Mondaythe first group of coaches were certified. They will visit inner city communities, equipped with rackets and chalk to demarcate the courts, issue the rackets and train the youths on how to play squash.

Lazarus said the sport had become very popular in the city some 22 schools in Doornfontein, the CBD and inner city areas already involved.
“It has grown to such an extent that some of the youngsters we have coached have made it to provincial levels. Squash not only promotes the physical health, but it teaches basic life skills including arithmatic,” he said.

Currently the wooden rackets are being made locally and will be sponsored, but in the long term, Lazarus said he hopes to establish centres using local participants to manufacture the bats.

Egoli Squash is a registered public benefit outreach programme of Central Gauteng Squash and uses the sport of squash to curb the vicious cycle of poverty and crime for disadvantaged youth aged eight to years from the communities of Alexandra, Soweto and the inner city.
It is an outreach project of Central Gauteng Squash and was established in 2009.

“The development of squash is a platform used to address youth and issues affecting them, and their communities as well as to revive the spirit of ubuntu among our youth, as they are the future of the country. There is an urgent need to empower young people especially in the Joburg inner city, Soweto and Alex communities where family units are being broken down, households are struggling with high unemployment rates, and youth are exposed to environments with crime and violence nearly every day of their lives,” he said.

Over the years, Egoli Squash has helped 5 000 youths in the Joburg areas.

“The children are taught to have high self- esteem and appreciate themselves for who they are so as to reach and achieve their goals and dreams. We discourage divisions, gangs, crime and we enforce respect as well as the spirit of ‘ubuntu’. Children are encouraged to build good relationships at all levels; at school, sport centers, communities and with parents.”

Lazarus said that in a country, so well-known for its sporting prowess, many learners at townships and inner-city schools were not receiving the benefits of physical and sporting development. Schools do not have adequate resources to offer extra-mural or sport development facilities. “We are working hard to reverse this condition by making squash a sport that is accessible and helps to increase a disadvantaged child’s chances of achieving excellence in sport, in school and in life.”

The organisation focuses on enabling teachers, sports coordinators and coaches to develop skills and competencies so that there is the ability, competence and manpower to both manage the training sessions, run the programme with minimal external input in the future and earn a living from these structures, he adds. 

There is a professional team of 15 qualified coaches, as well as 60 trained teacher coaches who run training sessions every week and weekends involving more than 1 500 children from the inner city and 500 from Soweto.

Working with donors, Egoli Squash has been able to refurbish two of the courts in Soweto.