THREE children from MTR Smit Children’s Home in Charlo returned from Benoni last week after proudly representing Eastern Province at their first ever provincial badminton championship.
Devan Deysel, 18, Thelma Fatman, 16, and Nosiphiwo Mlotywa, 15, were selected this year for the EP badminton team having only started playing the sport five months ago.
Team coach Ruben Snyman is the financial manager at MTR Smit and has been getting the children at the home involved.
Snyman, an experienced provincial senior player, started coaching the EP team at the beginning of the year. He is also the current treasurer for EP Badminton.
There are 19 children from the home who play badminton but many prefer to play socially rather than competitively according to Snyman.
The three who made the team have been dedicated and picked up the skills quickly.
“They have done well because it has only been five months since they started,” said Snyman.
The team practises twice a week at the EP Badminton hall in Alan Drive, Walmer Downs. Leading up to the tournament, they practised three times a week and then every day.
Snyman said he would like to see the talented players from the home play in the local league and also put a team together to play in a schools’ league which is on the cards.
There are around 50 junior players in the province at the moment but only five or six playing in the league.
“We want to get more competitive junior players. We need young blood in the sport because there are lots of senior players,” said Snyman.
He said the EP veteran players did well in competitions so the problem was there were not enough juniors.
The rest of the players from the home play for the fun of it and to keep fit and active.
“It is good for the kids. They can play anytime and they enjoy it. It is a nice workout and it puts them in a different mood,” said Snyman.
“It is better than being at home and doing nothing.”
Devan, Thelma and Nosiphiwo said they would continue playing and hoped to make the EP open team one day. They are also grateful for having a good coach.
“He is a good influence and motivates us,” said Devan. “He teaches us about the game and about respect.”