On 12th March 2018, an official handover of collected kit that was spearheaded by former SA Ladies Hockey Captain, Marsha Cox, and current SA men’s hockey captain, Tim Drummond, took place at Greenwood Park Primary. The government school that caters for the local Redhill, KwaMashu and Inanda communities in KZN faces major challenges when it comes to providing their 1000 primary school students with access and exposure to various sporting disciplines, according to Principal Ian Africa.
“60% of our kids come from the townships and have to commute to school which means most of them can’t afford the additional sporting equipment and they are unable to stay after school to participate in extramural activities due to transport restrictions. Adding to this challenge is that our teachers are already under time constraints and pressure when it comes to getting through the syllabus with most of them teaching classes of approximately 40 learners each. The reality is that our staff simply don’t have the time or resources to try fundraise for sporting gear for our learners or even to volunteer their time after school to coach sport. That’s why the generous donation by Marsha and Tim of hockey bags, sticks, gum guards and other hockey paraphernalia is so appreciated and needed by our students; as well as a kind offer by Riverside Hockey Club to assist us with coaching so we can make hockey a sustainable and attractive offering for our children,” explained Africa.
The sizeable donation of hockey kit was collected during the PHL 2017 season by the Drakensberg Dragons, which Tim Drummond played for, with the intention of giving back to the sport and communities in need. It was through having discussions with a fellow former Riverside Hockey Club and SA player – Marsha Cox – about her existing project to develop and nurture talent at her former school that the decision was made to donate all collected gear to these children in need. During the handover, Tim said, “this is a project that we had been discussing with SA Hockey for some time, so it’s wonderful to finally be here and see it realised. We are hoping to continue this project into the future and ultimately we would like to encourage kids from all walks of life to play and enjoy this great sport. It would be great to see some of you today eventually wearing the green and gold like another former pupil from the school, Marsha.”
Marsha has had numerous interactions with her old school since having become an internationally successful player and maintains that through hockey so many doors have been opened to her. “I know how vital sport can be in not only offering kids opportunities to live healthier lives but just the opportunity to experience new things, be it challenges or the experience of making friends. It’s this opportunity that we want to offer the kids from Greenwood Park Primary. Through my hockey career, I have met and made so many friends from different backgrounds, communities, and countries that I would have never had the chance of meeting any other way. Ideally, through this gesture of donating kit, I hope that at some point down the line some of these kids will get to experience it too,” stated Marsha.
Riverside Hockey Club’s (RHC) Caryn Bentley-Springate who played with Marsha at Club level and was also an integral part of the SA ladies hockey team for many years and now heads up the Mini Hockey division for the Durban North club, re-affirmed RHC’s commitment to assist with growing the sport at Greenwood Park Primary. “Riverside Hockey Club shares Tim and Marsha’s passion for giving back to our communities and trying to elevate the sport of hockey and love for the game even more widely then it currently is. That’s why when Tim as a current RHC player approached us to see how we could also try support Greenwood Park Primary – we were only too delighted to start discussions on how we can utilize our impressive talent pool of coaches to assist the school and their kids. We have already seen first-hand how the Kit for Kwa-Mashu Kids collection that RHC has successfully spearheaded for the past 10 years has made a significant difference to the community and players of the Inanda, Ntuzuma and Kwa Mashu (INK) Hockey Club. Each set of kit donated means another player for INK and a healthier outlet and past-time for disadvantaged youth living in these poorer areas of KZN,” stated Bentley-Springate.
Africa concluded the handover saying, “I believe that for children, and even adults, playing sport is important because it imparts good values and promotes a healthy lifestyle. To have had role models like Tim and Caryn take time out of their busy schedules to interact and engage with our kids at this handover ceremony will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on our children. We hope this much-needed donation and Riverside Hockey Club’s offer to create a sustainable way of coaching hockey will result in another one of our pupils becoming an SA hockey and sporting legend – just like Marsha,”
For more information about the junior programme or Riverside Hockey Club in general, you can contact Riverside Hockey Club at firstname.lastname@example.org