Updated: Jun 27, 2018
Atlantis, on the Cape West Coast some 60 km from Cape Town, is renowned for soccer, or football as the people of Atlantis prefer to call it. Robinvale High in Atlantis is the top high school for football in the Western Cape and among the best in the country.
Robinvale is one of four schools in Atlantis that Nedbank will present with two football kits at the Clock Tower campus in Cape Town on 17 May. This is part of the Nedbank Cup corporate and social investment (CSI) initiative to support development soccer in Western Cape schools. The handover takes place two days before the Nedbank Cup Final at Cape Town Stadium on 19 May.
Two educators and two learners from each of the four schools, Robinvale High, Proteus Secondary, Reygersdal Primary and Grosvenor Primary, will receive the kits.
‘Nedbank prides itself on its reputation as money experts who do good for all the communities we serve, and this kit presentation is part of this,’ says the Executive Head of Group Marketing at Nedbank, Khensani Nobanda. ‘Nedbank has also been a proud sponsor of the Nedbank Cup since 2008, and of numerous soccer development initiatives through the Nedbank Cup CSI initiative and with The Sports Trust through our Nedbank Sport Affinity Programme.’
‘Football is huge in Atlantis and we deeply appreciate the kit and support from Nedbank,’ says Vaughn Murray, who has been with Robinvale High for 27 years, and pincipal for the past 15 years. ‘We have four teams in each age group for the boys – U/14, U/15, U/17 and U/19 – and one girls’ team for all the age groups. We use our tournament winnings to buy kit and equipment, but it is very expensive and we rely on sponsorships.’
Murray explains how well each of their teams has done over several years, achieving first place in the province on numerous occasions and representing Western Cape Football at national tournaments: ‘We are the only school outside of Mitchell’s Plain to win the prestigious U/19 Mr Price Cup consecutively in 2015 and 2016. In any given competition there can be 65 schools and we are very proud of our position as the top school.’
Murray especially acknowledges coaches and educators Winston Williams, Randolph Roberts, the late Christopher Samuels, Antonio Michaels and Lewis Claassen for creating and maintaining a winning culture at Robinvale over many years.
With 1 200 learners, Robinvale benefits from the 18 feeder primary schools in Atlantis, specifically attracting the top young football stars. One of Robinvale’s many stars is Roy-Keane Avontuur, who has played in the U/17 national side despite being only 14.
One of the feeder schools is Reygersdal Primary, which has 1 130 learners from Grade R to Grade 7, and is led by Danny Pietersen, who has been the principal for 21 years. ‘My school is mad about football – it is the number one sport in Atlantis. Every day after school and on weekends our kids are out there playing, and we send our best football players to Robinvale High School,’ says Pietersen. ‘It is such great news to be getting this kit, as our current kit is used so often that it is not in a good state.’
Two years ago The Sports Trust opened a multipurpose sports court at Reygersdal, sponsored by the National Department of Sport and Recreation. ‘After 17:00, when our learners go home, we let youngsters from the area who are not in school and at-risk youth play soccer on our sports court. We try to get them off the streets, out of crime and into sport, and a positive spinoff from this is that our facilities have never been vandalised; they help to look after them.’
The coaches at the schools include club, provincial and national players from Atlantis who volunteer after work and on weekends. Cheslyn Lombard, a former Grosvenor Primary learner and football player, now assists with the coaching there. He played for Boland from U/11 to U/19 (1999–2006), and for the U/16 Western Cape and SA Schools teams.
‘Grosvenor Primary has a beautiful and prestigious soccer history and has achieved numerous soccer accolades over the years,’ says Principal Terence Adams, who was the Deputy Principal at Reygersdal for nine years, where he worked alongside Pietersen before taking up the principal post at Grosvenor two years ago.
‘We believe in creating empowering opportunities for our learners and teachers, whether through academics or extramural activities, and we take great pride in all our endeavours and the impact this has on people’s lives.
‘One of our teachers, Ms Jonkers, attended school at Grosvenor Primary and played football here. In 2004 the Boland School Sport Association crowned her player of the year. She played for the Western Province Schools and the SA Schools football teams. She is now the manager and coach of the girls’ football team at Grosvenor Primary.’
All the schools receiving kits are under-resourced and either non-paying schools or schools that receive a minimal fee from those parents who can afford it. The schools reach extraordinary heights on limited funds; and the dedication of their principals and teachers is exemplary. As Pietersen says: ‘I try to make heaven on earth for these kids and I will continue to do so for as long as I live.’