By Dalla Abass
As a 12 year old back in the ‘70s, an essential part of our football program was the weekly meetings we attended on Thursday evenings, shortly after training sessions.
But first we hurried home after the training to wash up and eat. At the meeting, everyone looked clean and smart, with hair nicely brylcreemed back into neat layers.
When the Chairman called for order promptly at 8pm you could hear a pin drop. Minutes were read, correspondence tabled; the most exciting part of the meeting came when the captains of the teams tabled their match reports. If you played well your name would feature strongly in that report. Or fellow club-mates would be permitted to comment and mention that so-and-so played well or scored a terrific goal.
Of course, you had to put your hand up to indicate that you wanted to make a comment. And when you made mention of someone you had to say Mr. Chairman, so-and-so played very well or scored a terrific goal.
It was all about order, good ethic, discipline and good manners. At the age of fourteen I became the Junior Secretary.
It was there that I learnt how to take minutes at a meeting. I developed the confidence to speak in front of a group.
These were life skills that I and all other club members could learn and take with us and apply in our later adult lives. We launched All Stars in 2011 and of course, each youngster’s dream is to making it big. Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns, Ajax, some of them even dream of making it as far afield as Manchester United.
And so we provide them with that Field of Dreams. And what better field than the one at Malta Park in Fir Street, Observatory to help them dream on!
It’s quiet, green ambience is a far cry from the dusty, violence stricken streets of Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill where most of our players come from.
They look forward to these moments on a Tuesday and Thursday evening when we pick them up for training. To be together in such a suburb is akin to a seaside visit or special outing.
And as they grow through the age categories, some of them will make it. In fact, some of them have. We have recently had players who moved on to play at more renowned academies – Ajax Cape Town, Milano, Stars of Africa. And just recently we even had a player trialling at Cape Town City for a spot in their Under 19 division.
We have featured in the popular Metropolitan Bayhill Premier Cup, one of the most prestigious youth competitions in Africa.
In 2014 Our Under 17 division featured as the winners of the Fulham Tournament of Hope, another prestigious youth tournament held annually in Mitchells Plain and featuring some of the top clubs within the Western Cape.
But we urge our players to prioritise their education. After all, not all of them are going to make it big. To those who do not, they would have had the chance to travel to Observatory and experience a different side of life.
To rub shoulders with the only white boy, Kyle, who plays at our club, and to realise after all, Kyle is just another boy like them aspiring to play for Manchester United.
Kyle’s mom and dad are good people who love them and bring them apples and bananas on game days and inspire them not only from the touch line on game day, but on every other day when they come into contact with one another.
And when they sometimes take a walk from Malta Park up to the Spar in Station Street, they get to experience the Bohemian culture of Observatory is a far cry from the gangster and drug culture that they are exposed to on a daily basis in their own home-towns.
They have an opportunity to see that there is a different life to that of the Cape Flats.
If you would like to get involved, support or apply to join the program please contact Dalla Abass – Director, All Stars Football Development Program Mobile: +27 (0) 60 603 1164 firstname.lastname@example.org. Practice sessions are every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm at Malta Park Sports Fields | Firs Street, Observatory.
By Dalla Abass