From the inception of the Heritage Day Cup concept, Anneley Gradwell’s plans have been ambitious. In recognition of the challenges facing the community of Graaff-Reinet and particularly the youth, she has sought to provide a platform to enable young people to see a future for themselves. After 2018’s inaugural tournament with 8 teams participating in a boys football competition, this year’s event brought Anneley a step closer to realising her objective across age groups, sports and genders.
Starting on Saturday 21st September, 630 children and youth from Graaff-Reinet’s local communities participated in a knock-out tournament of football and netball matches. Excitement began to build in the weeks leading up to the event, with players contacting Anneley to express their enthusiasm for the contest ahead. After an official draw and the distribution of bright pink T-shirts to the coaches and referees, the matches got underway. Each participant was provided with a branded reusable plastic bottle to curb the usage of single-use plastic and to keep the kids hydrated.
The day of the finals dawned on Tuesday 24th September – Heritage Day itself. The teams that had made it through the knockout stages collected at 7am at uMasizakhe Stadium and started their warm-ups, the boys in their soccer kit for the final matches of the football tournament and the girls in their netball gear. The girls netball final was played early in the day, with victory clinched by uMasizakhe, narrowly beating runners-up Academy. The winners received gold medals, a floating trophy and vouchers for new trainers, sponsored by Samara and Nommerpas, a local shoe store. The second team received vouchers for new kit and silver medals, whilst the team in third place received bronze medals. These prizes were generously sponsored by Friend of Samara Kim Budge.
By 3pm the boys football final had arrived. Fans started to fill the uMasizakhe Stadium. The atmosphere was electric. Fans sang songs; the music played. It was a tight final, with the Portical Birds (last year’s runners-up) scoring a goal against Arose in the dying minutes to clinch the title 1-0. Their fans leapt to their feet in applause. A floating trophy and vouchers for new football boots went to the victors (again jointly sponsored by Samara and Nommerpas), vouchers for new kit to the runners-up, and the top three teams all received medals. The winning teams in both netball and football were also awarded a trip to the Camdeboo National Park and a venison braai by SANParks.
The Samara team of Anneley Gradwell and her able assistants (Sarah Tompkins, Kim Budge, Julius Mkhize, Riaan Swemmer, Edwin Reid, Emanual Benadie and Shaun Frieslar) made a braai assisted by a team from SANParks. SPAR generously sponsored the ingredients for 650 boerie rolls, as well as oranges, apples and water. These were handed out to all participants, as well as local children who helped collect all the rubbish.
Julius Mkhize, Samara’s Head Ranger, made a short speech about sport and conservation, with a focus on changing children’s lives in the local community. Graaff-Reinet and the surrounding areas face a number of challenges, with getting the youth off the streets to play sports one of the keys to a more positive future.
Sarah Tompkins, Director of Samara, also had the chance to have meaningful discussions with Mike Majova, one of Graaff-Reinet’s community managers and the driving force of the local football club, as well as a member of the ‘Old Crocks’ football team! They hope to be able to work together to help overcome not just youth unemployment and aspiration, but the associated issues of gender inequality and violence.
Samara Private Game Reserve would like to thank all the participants, referees, linesmen, supporters and organisers of the Heritage Day Cup 2019. Particular thanks to the sponsors: Toyota, SPAR, Nommerpas and Montego Foods. Thank you to Kim Budge for her generous sponsorship of the girls netball top team prizes and her help on the day of the final. Thank you to Zwai Mjadu, Park Manager of Camdeboo National Park, for SANParks’s generous sponsorship of the winners’ free entry into and venison braai in the park.
Samara Private Game Reserve is a luxury safari destination with a difference. Guests are invited behind the scenes of a passionate conservation journey to restore a unique South African wilderness. This genuine conservation participation, combined with heartfelt Karoo hospitality and breathtaking landscapes, offers a safari that feeds the soul.