DESPITE the many challenges facing them, the Gelvan Squash Club have put the wheels firmly in motion to grow the development of squash in the northern areas.
Gelvan, who have three teams in the EP leagues, are the only squash club operating in the northern areas and have been doing so since the unification of sport in South Africa in 1992.
The biggest obstacle they faced, chairman Mike Brockman said, was the lack of facilities because there were no squash courts servicing the vast region covered by the northern areas.
The club’s teams operate from the East Cape Training Centre, but Brockman said the situation was not ideal because there were conditions attached and the courts were also used for the EP’s development programme, which led to overcrowding.
“The club is in dire need [of] courts and we are in a process to obtain a lease for building courts at the Gelvan playing fields with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality,” Brockman said.
“The club would do wonders if we acquire courts at Gelvan fields [because of, among others, ease of] access …”
Ironically, Gelvan were in line to receive funds from the national lottery to build courts, but they could not obtain a lease letter from the metro on time and that project fell flat.
“We have continued the process to obtain a lease from the metro, which has been going on for about three years,” said Brockman, adding: “It’s slow, but we are hoping to get that lease.”
Though Londt Park made their facilities available, transport to the venue was an issue, Brockman said.
Their troubles, however, have not stopped Gelvan from pursuing their dream of growing the game among the youth in the northern areas.
Last month, Gelvan, with assistance from Londt Park, held a successful development day for 50 children.
“Thanks to Lotto funding, which was allocated for development, we were able to supply the children with some entry-level rackets and takkies because many of them have nothing at all,” Brockman said. “The project was led by [EP development head Angela [Difford] and the Gelvan members assisted with the coaching.”
Brockman said their aim to was raise the awareness of squash at primary schools in the northern areas with the aim of providing sporting activities for the children.
“The club have adopted De Heuwel Primary as a pilot project and we are trying to get teachers involved so we can spread the game to other schools as well,” Brockman said. “Then we also want to get into the high schools but our penetration success rate at that level has been very poor.”
You can only take your hat off to the Gelvan members for their efforts to create a healthy environment for the northern areas youth.
By their nature, development projects are not high profile, but they remain the lifeblood of any sport and are crucial the transformation of sport in South Africa.
To do so without facilities at your disposal underlines the Gelvan Squash Club members’ special enthusiasm for the game. They deserve all the support they get.