Manenberg born and raised Mogammad Shukr Hartzenberg is using sport to unite communities and leave a legacy.
His project to build a jungle gym for pupils at Primrose Park Primary School has already reached its goal of raising the necessary funds.
The rugby coach is a product of the Western Province junior rugby teams. After suffering a heavy injury in his under-16 year, he had to take a break for three years, which in turn, cost him his goals of earning a sports scholarship to an elite school and playing professional rugby from there onwards.
Hartzenberg believes in this methodology, as it has worked for his five brothers — two of his younger brothers, Yaasier and Suleiman, are a part of the junior Springbok teams. For the positive Hartzenberg, with every setback, there is a comeback.
He took up mentorship as his way of motivating young pupils from Manenberg to stay in school and use sport as their gateway to a better life.
“Sport allowed me to introspect and develop a voice. I used to stutter with a massive speech problem. I was shy and used to stand at the back of the classroom. But I’ve always wanted to be a role model to my society and a brand for every club and school I joined,” he said.
After a brief stint as a teacher at Primrose Park Primary School, Hartzenberg saw an opportunity and joined the Western Province Preparatory School (WPPS) three years ago. This year, he became the Head of Social Responsibility at the Claremont-based school.
Hartzenberg said it would have been easy to create the usual nutritional packages to give back to previously disadvantaged schools, as a part of their social responsibility initiatives, but he opted for a more constructive role of “building something tangible” that will outlive their timeline.
“If I want to make an impact on behalf of the school, it should be something tangible so if I am no longer around, then something will exist based on a project and a timeline with a framework that mobilises people in both communities towards one common cause,” he said.
The WetPups, WPPS under-9 rugby and hockey teams, in partnership with the non-profit organisation SA Unite and crowdfunding platform SportForLives are playing each weekly fixture of this year’s season in support of the cause.
With every try and every goal scored, the under-9s, with the assistance of the public, will raise R30 000 towards the donation of building the playground for the Grade R’s and Grade 1 pupils of Primrose Park Primary School.
Hartzenberg said the response from the public and the community has been instrumental. Just a week ago they had a function where the parents of Grade 3 pupils at WPPS sold boerewors rolls, as well as a sold out movie day.
With over a half of the season left to play, earlier this week they reached their target, with the funds sitting at a whooping R32 277.
“We are well ahead of schedule. This means it is actionable and not a pipe dream anymore,” he said.
Hartzenberg said they have left the donations portal open for people who are still willing to donate to the worthy cause.
Their next step is now the construction of the jungle-gym at Primrose Park Primary School. For more information, email Hartzenberg@wpps.org.za or call 065 338 7525.