Team scores to win
Flanked by a busy arterial way and a wall covered in gang tags, the field is littered with rubble and dumped waste.
But while the conditions are not ideal they are making the most of what they have.
Not using it as a crutch and without excuses, they are winning the fight against gangsterism, social ills and crime, one match at a time.
Fluid Football Club, established in 2009, is an initiative aimed at giving the youth a positive outlet. Situated in an area rife with gangsterism and crime, club president and founder Debbie Solomons started the club to keep children off the streets.
Watching children fight over a ball on an open field prompted the establishment of a soccer club which has already made a huge impact on the community.
“We started with a small group of boys and it grew overnight. The word spread and in one day’s time we had hundreds of boys,” says Solomons.
They decided on the name Fluid, because everything in life needs water, the same way they hoped to fill the need for intervention.
Due to a lack of facilities in close proximity and the increase in volatile shootings and crime, the club has been forced to make use of open fields to practice and the boys have had to move between fields often, says Solomons.
Although being active for the past nine years, the club moved from the union which forced it to close its doors.
“Gangsterism forced us to leave the union. One Sunday morning the children were playing and then gangsters started shooting. We had to capture the children and shelter them in a small little hut at the field. We needed to cancel the day’s play as a result. We went silent and then decided to open it again this year,” she says.
Recognising the need, they re-established the entity independently this year and once again experienced tremendous growth.
“We currently have around 110 members with teams u.10, u.12, u.14, u.16 and two senior teams,” says Wayne Meyer, chairperson of Fluid F.C.
“The children that used to play for me were starting to go into gangsterism and drugs. I knew I needed to start this again. My heart was so hurt because they were kept away from it when they were playing soccer. I called one of the boys over and asked if he would leave gangsterism if I opened the club again and he said ‘yes’,” she says.
Her love for children still drives her to keep going, she says.
“I cannot see a child suffer. Your child is my child, I believe that,” she says.
And for this reason, Solomons has become a parental figure for many in the community.
“There is a lack of love in our area. Most of the mothers are on drugs and because the mother doesn’t care, no one else does. I don’t like to know only the player, I want to know the personal side of the child’s life. It is not just about playing soccer. We need to help the children grow academically as well,” she says.
“We don’t only want them to eat, sleep and breathe soccer. We focus on them academically as well and we would like tutors who can assist us with helping the children. Some of them fail in high school and primary school for English, math and Afrikaans. We want them to do well and I always tell them if they don’t do their homework, they can’t practise or play,” says Meyer.