So after a difficult 2020 and little interaction with anyone at any level, 2021 started to look like there was life after Lockdown. As a parent I was acutely aware of the needs of the little people, those brave souls that didn’t quite understand what happened in 2020 except that it impacted their very real need to socialize and participate in a world outside the walls of their home and with people other than mom, pop and maybe even that annoying sibling.
Frequent walks, skateboarding in the park and cycling down the quiet roads in the neighbourhood was the sum total of excitement last year. Then with the reintegration back into the workplace and schools, and making peace with the one week of routine whilst Junior was at school and the alternate week of chaos that was home assessments, 2021 started to look promising. Life after lockdown was manageable so long as some basic safety measures were in place.
Junior, like any child his age and especially like any only child, really needed not only a routine but a channel to deplete those Duracell battery packs that kids come with these days.
Reminiscing about my own childhood, I remember riding my bike the whole day, playing soccer on the field and cricket on the streets. Only really stopping to rush home before sunset or when the gash or scratch wouldn’t stop bleeding after copious amounts of spit and saliva did not stop it on that elbow or knee that was an inevitable outcome from that tarmac dive trying to score that last run. I wanted to pass this legacy on to my son, of fun outside the home, away from the TV and the PS4.
I am happy to say I have found the perfect modern-day comparison.
This outfit run by Coach Mark Naik and his super passionate merry men (and lady) started just before Ramadaan. Some advertising at the East Rand pre-Ramadaan Market caught my attention and we went through to Benoni Lake Club to see what it was about. Astroplex built 3 mini soccer and one cricket court at the club. The registration included Astroplex kit for all signups as well as a decent cricket bat for those kids that signed up for that sport. The group is still small, although they say the interest was good, perhaps the timing of the launch was off. Still, even through Ramadaan there was regular Thursday afternoon practice after madressa as well as Saturday morning kick abouts. It was so awesome to see how this group of little guys played together with copious amounts of laughter and some even continued to fast through the training sessions. I must make note of one little guy 2 & ½ years old and given just as much of coach’s attention as the bigger kids. That is skill and commitment. For further details check out their website: www.astroplex.co.za
1st Benoni Sea Scouts
Having been a cub scout myself, I was pleasantly surprised to find the 1st Benoni Sea Scouts very active at their home base Arrowe Park Scout Centre. The group is well established with Meerkat (below 7 years), cubs (8 to 10 years) and the older scout troops. They are active every Friday night during school terms. Sea Scouts you ask? Yep there are three main scout groups, Land, Air and Sea and they all follow the same curricula with some preferences or bias towards their specific skills in line with the environment of choice. The Sea Scouts prepare the youngsters to “always do their best” and as their motto says “be prepared” both on land and on water. It is quite a sight to see little people splashing away in kayaks on Homestead Dam under the watchful eye of the scoutmasters and the older more experienced scouts. Seeing the level of responsibility these kids portray and the respectful manners of all you encounter at Arrowe Park is definitely a character trait I would like to nurture in my own son. Every meeting ends with a council circle with cubs and staff in full uniform pledging to do their best. Interesting information can be found on their website: https://sites.google.com/site/1stbenoni/
For the time being, I think these activities will keep junior active and busy and I am more than happy to let him couch potato part of the weekend away if he needs screen time.
By Zulfikar Umar