Archive for August, 2010

No world cup legacy for Sea Point Beachfront

During the world cup I would often see more than 10 games of soccer being played at the same time on the Sea Point Beachfront. From older lads playing more “serious” games to the smaller chaps just kicking for the joy of kicking, and there was always me and the scoops – with my “don’t do as I do” approach to teaching him soccer – it seems to be working.

Scoops enjoying an illegal kick around

Scoops enjoying an illegal kick around

But now that the world cup spirit is fading into a maelstrom of corruption, murder trials and some serious attempts at media restriction, it seems even our little sunset kick-arounds on the Sea Point lawns can’t go on unchecked. With Scoops running rings around me and ordering around the slightly bigger boys who had joined our game, we were approached by a policeman on his fancy Segway, who told us we are not allowed to play ball games on the lawn!? To his credit the cop was suitably apologetic and clearly embarrassed, but he was following orders and had already stopped a nearby game so he felt obliged to stop ours as well. So we waited until he was gone, and like the nearby game, soon started up again, playing until it was too dark to be seen by anyone, never mind the cops.

Now this law/rule (whatever) is not new. Like many other laws, it was ignored during the world cup but it’s now back and being enforced. I do understand that 22 men playing a full scale soccer match on the hallowed lawns might cause some damage but a three year old having a kick around with his dad – come on! This is what makes the beachfront special. Not just the promenade where lovers stroll, moms and dads push their young ones and grannies gossip as sexy roller bladers and sweaty runners zip past them – it’s also the adjacent lawn space where touch rugby and soccer are played, paragliders land, babies learn to walk and kids play soccer.

With Sea Point heavily populated by apartment blocks, having an open and safe public space is a must and it is enjoyed by all Cape Town’s residents not just those living in the area. It is used for a wide variety of reasons from religious ceremonies to Hara Krishna festivals, yoga and boot camp classes.

I understand Councilor, JP Smith’s problem but a firm “no ball games” rule is both draconian and ridiculous. They have already rehabilitated sections of the vast lawns, which stretch from Mouille Point to Bantry Bay, by closing off sections, and this seems a good system. I doubt anyone wants to see all games stopped on the beachfront – what kind of world cup legacy is denying kids the chance to run around, kick a ball and enjoy this beautiful and functional public space?