LIVING out the adage that good can come out of bad, a German holidaymaker has used her Kowie burglary experience to help a group of youngsters in Nemato township.
Now the Young Ideas soccer team, who used to play without kit on the neglected Endlovini field with no goalposts, have received suitcases full of kit, plenty of balls and goalposts.
Regina Wagner and her partner Reinhard Bischoff’s holiday home was broken into while they were sleeping early one morning in January.
GENEROUS DONATION: Members of the Young Ideas soccer team proudly display the assortment of football kit they received from German and Swiss donors, organised by Regina Wagner (front left) and Jacqueline Mattes. Young Ideas coach Zuko Vulani is in the middle Picture: JON HOUZET
The thieves slipped in through the burglar bars and took cameras, cellphones, clothing, a computer and a wallet containing cash and credit cards. But the most valuable item stolen was a 24-hour Breitling air watch – only three of its kind were made in Germany.
“I usually wake up at the slightest sound so I was surprised I didn’t wake up till morning and we found everything gone,” said Wagner. “They even took Reinhard’s shoes.”
When the police came to take fingerprints she met Constable Zuko Vulani and mentioned to him that she was puzzled how the thieves gained entry as they have a security gate and burglar bars.
“He told me they use children to squeeze through the burglar bars,” said Wagner.
Vulani told her about the programme he was running to keep kids off the streets.
“I’m trying to help the community eliminate crime, so I gathered these children after school and coach soccer,” he said, indicating the 30 or so boys training on the field.
“I also help with homework and lessons in life skills,” he said.
“I’m from Port Elizabeth originally and I was mentored by an old man there that becoming involved in soccer keeps kids out of trouble.”
Interested in what Vulani was doing, Wagner visited the field and noticed there were not even goalposts.
She asked if she could help and Vulani told her they always needed soccer balls. She approached family and friends and raised money to buy balls and goalposts. When her friends Jacqueline and Werner Mattes, from Switzerland, heard about what she was doing they also wanted to help.
The two couples have been visiting South Africa for a number of years and both couples bought holiday homes in Port Alfred and visit every Christmas and Easter.
When they returned this Easter they brought 55kg of soccer boots and shirts with them.
“The kids (in Europe) wear their kit just for a season. They grow so fast they wear it for two or three months and that’s it,” said Jacqueline.
“Our god-children also collected football clothing and filled up suitcases. They called their friends and asked if they have any old football shirts or shoes. They were very busy,” she said, proudly indicating the four Swiss youngsters who took delight in watching the township children play and try on their football kit.
On this trip Wagner and her friends also visited Molly Bam who runs an orphanage in Alexandria and brought her 80kg of clothing and R6 000 for groceries for the 50 children she looks after.
“This was also a donation from friends in Germany,” said Wagner. “We should especially mention Dorothee Goller, who gave a lot of money towards the goals and clothes.”
“It was meant to happen that I encountered people like Zuko and the woman at Standerwick Nursery who told me about Molly Bam. Everything is connected,” said Wagner.