Rotary field a ’beacon of hope’ for Westlake

Two Westlake netball teams cheer their thanks to Constantia Rotary Club.

The Constantia Rotary Club officially handed over an artificial-grass sports field to Westlake Primary School last Friday.

The project took two-and-half-years to complete, according to Rotary Club district governor Ian Robertson (“A sporting chance at a brighter future,” Bulletin July 1, 2021).

“It’s my pleasure to thank and honour Rotary Constantia for this achievement and to recognise how they have been engaging the community to bring many stakeholders together to make this a success,” said Mr Robertson.

Rotary project manager Geoff von Klemperer said Rotary’s network of contacts had helped to keep costs down on the R1.3 million project.

Rotary would soon be stepping back, he noted, so it would be vital to generate sufficient interest from local businesses to sustain and grow a project that needed, among other things, equipment, coaching and salaries for auxiliary teachers.

Mr Robertson said it had been important to involve the community from the beginning to ensure the facility was looked after and used in the way it was intended.

“We are sure that this is a facility that will be well enjoyed by the students and teachers alike,” he said, adding that it would change many lives for the better.

He dedicated the facility to Constantia Rotary’s founding member Lloyd Whitfield.

The field is the brainchild of the school’s founding principal, Landie Diamond, now the director of the Western Cape Education Department’s metro east district.

“The field you see here today goes beyond fulfilling the learners’ sporting needs. It is meant to change this community, which is bedevilled by poverty and unemployment,” she said.

“It is meant to fight crime and other social ills. It is not designed to only enhance the children’s physique but to train their young minds and build their confidence. Most importantly, it is built to be a bridge between this community and the rest of the world. Overall, it majestically stands here, as a beacon of hope and resilience.”

Ms Diamond said the school, which opened in 2011, was a “melting pot”, and the sports field was a place where that diversity could find expression.

“We have Afrikaans-speaking kids and others from the Eastern Cape. We also have kids from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Congo and other countries. It can only be at the sports field that children learn about their diversity and forge lifelong relations with one another.”

Westlake school governing body chairman Nkululeko Badini said Westlake’s 700 homes were meant for 5 000 people, but there were 17 000 people living in houses and backyard dwellings, and the community, until now, had had no sports facilities. “We only have one community hall which is used by churches and NGOs. Our kids end up playing on the streets.

“Today we are proud and happy to be given this sports field by Constantia Rotary Club. It is an honour and we are grateful for the work that they have done.”

Brad Bing of Sporting Chance, who was behind Constantia Primary School Astroturf sports field (“Turf project for Constantia Primary,” Bulletin, February 16, 2017), said the Westlake community wanted a sports field across the Keyser’s River. “But the environmental impact assessment alone will cost half a million rand because it is on a wetland and below the flood plain.”

He said he hoped to see the many sports clubs in Westlake use the school’s facility and that there would be a sports match between Constantia and Westlake primary schools before the year was out.

This is what the site looked like in the initial phase in December 2020.
Funding was also found for equipment and a grandstand.
Rotary Club district governor Ian Robertson praised Rotary Constantia for working with the community to make the sports facility a success.
Rotary Club district governor Ian Robertson, Constantia Rotary’s Lloyd Whitfield and Geoff von Klemperer.
Westlake Primary School principal Tracey Petersen-Brown honoured Cordelia Chihoto, who taught sport at the school until her recent death.
Westlake Primary’ s founding principal Landie Diamond was guest speaker at the launch.
School governing body chairman Nkululeko Badini said Westlake’s children played on the streets because the community lacked sports facilities.
Brad Bing, of Sporting Chance, hopes to see a sports match between Constantia and Westlake primary schools before the year is out.
Westlake Primary School pupils try out their new sports field.