The rural village of Cunnigmoore B in Bushbuckridge was a hive of activity on 08 July 2022 as the locals streamed to Mchaka High School to witness the official opening of a modern sports facility delivered by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in partnership with broadcasting giant, MultiChoice Group. This project forms part of Minister Ronald Lamola’s corporate social responsibility initiatives that are geared towards community development and unlocking access to sports and recreational amenities in underprivileged communities.
As proud alumni of Mchaka High School, and one of the leading luminaries, the weight of expectation is huge on Minister Lamola to be an agent of change and transformation in the community. The first phase of project to construct grandstands of a revamped sports field at Mchaka High School was completed using offender labour. In order to build on the good work done during the initial phase, Minister Lamola approached MultiChoice Group with a proposal for the two institutions to join hands for the next phase of the project. The company through its Chief Executive Officer, Calvo Mawela, who also hails from Bushbuckridge, jumped at the opportunity to partner with DCS in order to make a meaningful difference in the lives of learners and the broader community. Although built at Mchaka High School in Cunningmoore B, the football and netball sports facilities will also benefit many learners from neighbouring communities.
Minister Lamola was effusive in his commendation of MultiChoice for their commitment to the development of school sports and for ploughing resources to level the playing field between rural schools and their more affluent counterparts in urban areas. “To MultiChoice and their CEO, Mr Calvo Mawela, we are very grateful for your contribution, this would not have been possible through our own efforts because we did not have all the resources that could make this facility possible,” said Minister Lamola. The Minister also extended a special word of thanks to officials and offenders from DCS who devoted their time and labour to ensure the success of the project.
Minister Lamola expressed hope that through the facility, the talents of kids from Cunningmoore B and neighbouring communities can be nurtured to enable them to become professional players in the future, and to go further to even ply their trade beyond South Africa’ shores. He encouraged the youth not to be deterred by their background, affirming that their dreams are valid. He implored them to dare to dream big and to believe that they too can be the leaders of tomorrow and become influential figures in the global economy. He urged the learners to participate in sports because it helps to build character and instil discipline. DCS has upgraded sport facilities in other parts of the country such as Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
MultiChoice CEO, Calvo Mawela indicated that the proposal to partner with DCS found resonance with the company after learning that the development of the sports facility through offender labour forms part of the Department’s rehabilitation programme. “We often see inmates as people who have done wrong and not as good people, but we must also see them as human beings who want to apologise to the community and show remorse, by changing their ways, and following the rehabilitation programmes that Correctional Services offers, so that one day they can also be integrated into society,” said Mawela.
Famous Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana legend, Doctor Khumalo also graced the occasion and motivated the learners to work hard and to be relentless in pursuit of their dreams to become professional footballers. After witnessing the raw talent on display from youngsters from various schools in the area, Khumalo committed to return to the area to scout for talent, with the objective of nurturing them to become future stars. He said sport is not only used to develop athletes, but can also be used to develop well-rounded human beings. He cited four key ingredients that are fundamental to the development and success of sportsmen and women, and these are confidence, commitment, concentration and control.
Mr Paspas Dlamini from the Department of Basic Education at Bohlabelo District and Principal Mchaka High School, Mr Rodrick Mnisi spoke in unison as they paid homage and acknowledged the significant investment made by DCS, MultiChoice and all stakeholders in the development of the state-of-the-art sports facility, and pledged to ensure that it is preserved and used for its intended purpose.