Unsatisfactory response by Joburg City officials frustrates Alex Rugby Club

The sports field that was supposed to be revamped 3 years ago. Photo by Ramatamo Sehoai

Rugby is a popular sport in Alexandra township but the lack of sports facilities is frustrating rugby clubs.

Alexandra, Gauteng, South Africa

When a massive tender was issued in 2015 to revamp the local sports ground which is located at the Kwa-Bheki Langa High School, Alexandra Rugby Club thought their woes were over as for years they have been using grounds far away from them to train and play their home games.

The initial plan was for the ground to be used for rugby and athletics. Now, what looks like a ground has since been turned into a venue for social events that damage the pitch. People can still be seen leisurely jogging around the track but ablution facilities are not working and no major sporting function take place there. The club complains that there is nothing that shows an attempt to build the rugby field except the poles in the ground. In 2015 a primary school in Alexandra township won district championships even though they had no field to practise on.

“The only thing that is synonymous with that place are events associated with music and alcohol, a sheer disregard for the development of young people. It seems we are not taken serious like other sporting codes and yet rugby is among the popular sports played in Alexandra,” said Siyabonga Kraqa, a rugby player and the development coach. He said they have been using a ground in Marlboro as an alternative but that has never been easy. “Our development is growing. Imagine the cost of taking 20-50 kids to Marlboro every day. If you walk with them, you have to think of their safety. Another thing is that our constant clash with Marlboro residents who want to use their ground.”

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“Almost all the sporting codes in Alex have grounds or spaces where they play except rugby. Soccer is even worse as they enjoy the majority of grounds in Alex. Maybe every kid in Alex must play soccer,” said Andile Kahle also from Alex Rugby Club.

He said that they have tried to engage City officials on the matter but the response has never been fruitful. If they pressed hard for the answers, they are told there is not budget to complete the ground.

When contacted for comment, Elsie Mokgoebo, a Regional Manager looking after the recreational facilities in Region E said the City does not have enough funds to finish the ground. She said she will gladly welcome the support of the private sector in this regard.

Regional Director, Liziwe-Ntshinga Makoro said she’ll investigate the matter. The office of the MMC for Community Development, Nonhlanhla Sefumba acknowledged the request to comment but had not done so at the time of going to print.

The general secretary for the local football association, Mafika Morajane promised to sit down with the rugby club to see if they can share some of their grounds with them.

The area’s Councillor, Teffo Raphadu also shared the rugby’s frustration on the matter and confirmed that they have raised the matter several times. He descrribed the City’s priorities as ‘twisted’: “We really don’t know what is the hold up. Not only rugby is frustrated, even the athletics. A lot of things are not ok there. Toilets are not working, there is no electricity. This is the situation at the state of the art facility that could be immensely contributing to the development of young people in Alex,” he said.

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