4×4 Megaworld’s Off Road Club recently returned from yet another community weekend in Shakaland — to establish a soccer field for the underprivileged local community. This is the 18th soccer field they have built since 2008
When 4×4 Megaworld’s Off Road Club decided to throw their weight behind Kingsley Holgate’s “Boundless Southern Africa Expedition” to build soccer fields in rural areas across Africa, they made a pledge to continue creating soccer fields or upgrading existing ones as part as their outreach programme.
“Every time we build a new soccer field it gets easier and we work a bit faster,” says 4×4 Megaworld’s Off Road Club organiser, Bernie Williams. “Assembling the goal posts and clearing the identified piece of land of bushes, shrubs, rocks and thorn trees are the hardest part of our work. But we manage to do all of this, and chalk the lines, in about five hours so that a match can be played that same afternoon.”
Club members are urged to join the excursions. “They just have to get themselves there and provide their own food — and bring their unwanted clothes and books or magazines with them,” says Bernie. “Depending on the area, we arrange free accommodation or camping spots for everybody who would like to get involved and help us out. “Shakaland made their school camp huts, ablutions, kitchen and lapa available to us at no charge for the entire weekend. Members who wanted a bit more luxury and privacy could book a Zulu hut that’s part of the Shakaland Hotel at their own cost.” This was not the first time that Bernie and his team had made a soccer field near Shakaland, nestled on top of the Entombeni Hills between Eshowe and Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal. A few months ago the club built a field at the local school, Ncemaneni Primary.This time it was for the community of about 30 000 living in the areas surrounding Shakaland, where there are few recreational or social facilities.
“We are very fortunate to have wonderful clients, club members and suppliers who make all of this possible,” says Bernie. “The steel for the goal posts was donated and African Outback designed these ‘easy to erect’ goal posts for us. “For each of our community weekends we have managed to get soccer balls, vuvuzelas, food, blankets, stationery, books and all sorts of other things from sponsors. We hand out these items at the eventual soccer match, or deliver them to the community school.”
On this latest venture, 4×4 Megaworld’s Off Road Club also provided a hot meal of chicken, vegetables and rice for all the players and spectators. “Dave Wily, general manager of Shakaland, supplied the big cast iron pots to cook the food in next to the fi eld. Dave really went out of his way to make this outreach possible. “Some Shakaland staff , who are keen soccer players, helped us clear the site and dig the holes for the goal posts. Even the principal of the local school joined in.”
Ian Palmer, one of the club’s most loyal supporters, takes part in almost every outreach programme. He seems to be a man with many contacts, so manages to get all sorts of things sponsored. “We handed over a boat trailer full of equipment, stationery and other useful things to the school, including a computer,” says Bernie. “It was the first computer the school has ever owned.”
The thing that probably made a bigger impression on everybody was the Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs blankets that were handed out to both teams aft er the match, along with the gold and silver certificates. These “fashion must-haves” were also courtesy of Ian Palmer.
“The greatest thing about this weekend was that Projek Aardwolf, a travel and nature magazine programme on Kyknet, got involved and joined us at Shakaland to film the enti re charity weekend, to create awareness of our soccer outreaches. The programme will be broadcast next summer, when the second series of Projek Aardwolf kicks off.”
DID YOU KNOW?
AmaZulu (or Zulu as we know it) means “The people of the heavens”. Before the 19th century, the amaZulu were one of a number of clans which comprised the Nguni people who inhabited the region that we know as Natal. In the 1700’s, however, a young and very attractive maiden from the neighbouring eLangeni clan captured the fancy of Chief Senzangakhona of the Zulu clan. Although marriage was out of the question because their respective clans were closely related, Senzangakhona, filled with desire, could not resist the fortuity of an amorous liaison with the lovely Nandi. On eventually receiving a message that Nandi was pregnant with Senzangakhona’s child, elders of the Zulu clan sent word back to the eLangeni that she could not possibly be pregnant and that instead it was merely the work of an iShaka – the name of an “intestinal beetle” that was blamed for menstrual irregularities. In due course, a second message arrived at the royal Zulu homestead. Senzangakhona was bad to collect Nandi and her “intestinal beetle.”
Little did all the Nguni clans of the day realize that this very child, Shaka Zulu (given the name since he was thought to only have been an iShaka), would one day be responsible for the formation of one of the most powerful nations Africa has ever known. Even today, in the Zulu belief, Shaka Zulu is regarded as the most powerful spirit.