Saturday 24 November 2007

Givin' out gear

I have been having such good fun at work (Let's Play) the past 3-weeks. Just before I returned from India a container load of secondhand sports equipment, from the Gear Up Our Kids campaign run in April in association with Mr Price, was dropped off at our offices. I volunteered to deal with the gear - sorting, counting and distributing.

It took four days - with assistance from some Wits students - to work through the boxes of tennis and squash racquets, cricket pads, rugby balls, shin pads and tons of other discarded equipment. Most of the gear is good for a lot more use; we threw out anything that was really trashed.

The atrium in our Supersport office looked like a tornado had swept through...

We have no shortage of avenues to donate the equipment as there are just so many sports programmes, communities and schools who have absolutely nothing.

What I find really astounding is that schools insist that the children have their own gear, which many parents just cannot afford and so the child is then unable to participate. Take cricket for example: I looked online to check out prices and my jaw dropped. When you add up a mid-range bat, pads and gloves you're looking at R4,000. For a parent only earning R8,000pm (or less) this is out of range.

I've also had emails about children who cannot play rugby because the school, in a low income area - insists that they have rugby jerseys and boots. These children are under the age of 15. Why does the school not introduce touch rugby instead of full contact?

When I was in primary school I played netball. The school had bibs and skirts, which we would use for games and then return afterwards. I keep questioning why schools do not have a range of cricket pads, bats, gloves and helmets for the children to use during practises and games. Judging from the amount of excellent quality equipment we received, many children (and adults) do not stick with sports (and they grow out of the equipment too).

Nonetheless, the equipment that was donated to Let's Play is going out to places where it will be treasured. In general, we give equipment to programmes where it can be shared, not to individuals.

As runners and adventure racers, we all go through a pair or two of shoes a year. Most are still useable - maybe not for a 200km adventure race, but certainly for playing. Ugene Nel will have a box at his Quantum Adventures events in the Cape for your old running shoes. We will do the same at AR Club in Joburg. Keep this in mind before you throw out your old run and trail shoes. We'll take them. Please tie the shoelaces together before putting your shoes in the boxes.

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