Children roaming the streets with nothing to do are a headache to both parents and the community because they can be easily tempted into vice.
Keeping children occupied and off the streets is the best way to keep them off evils such as drugs, early sex, unwanted pregnancy and jail, among other things.
Young people with nothing to do are attracted to mischief the way iron filings are attracted to a magnet.
While it is the false belief in today’s world children are no longer a communal responsibility, the irony is delinquent children will come back to haunt the community that failed to nurture them into responsible citizens when they turn into criminals, drug peddlers/abusers and prostitutes, among other vices. In the milieu we live in today, it is not easy to find adults who would volunteer to devote their time and energy to keep other people’s children off the streets through providing them meaningful activities.
Chitungwiza community is lucky to have Jimmy Ngwanji (41), a gym instructor by profession, who started Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex Sports Club (CACSC) for young children to keep them occupied so that they would avoid roaming the streets like unleashed dogs.
Ngwanji’s passion for sports is equalled by his desire to see children engaged in meaningful activities that blind them to attractions of wayward behaviour usually seen as a “norm” by misguided youths and adults in poverty-stricken and crime-infested high-density suburbs.
The club — through different sporting and counselling activities — seeks to address issues young people face in our fragmented society where children lack direction leading them to drift into negative behaviour.
“A lot of these kids have nothing to do after school and they end up engaging in criminal activities, therefore sporting activities will keep them occupied as well as shape their behaviour,’’ said Ngwanji.
CACSC was established in 2009 and it started with a handful of children and the number has increased significantly.
“We started with only five children, but the number has increased to 100. We have 70 boys and 30 girls between the ages of 3-18”, he added.
Ngwanji was later joined by other voluntary members, who also underwent a course in gymnastics and aerobics so that they could assist him in training the children. There are now six coaches at the centre.
Apart from moulding children’s behaviour through sport, CASC is a conduit for promotion of grassroots sports. It is now training children in various sporting disciplines that include cricket, netball, soccer, basketball, aerobics, gymnastics, volleyball and martial arts.
Shupikai Kodzwa, a teacher at Seke 1 High School, commended the good work that is being done by the club.
“The club has taught them to be disciplined and most of the children who are members of the club, have improved academically and this shows that CACSC is doing a great job in grooming these kids”, she said.
The club seeks to expand in order to accommodate more beneficiaries.
“Our theme is recreational fitness for all through sport, so we want to accommodate all ages so that people stay healthy and fit,” said Audrey Magunhu (37) one of the coaches at CACSC.
They aim to spread their influence to rural areas in the near future, but funding is the major hindrance.
Although the club received some material from the Community Sport Development Programme they still require decent funding to cater for all their costs.
Beauty Mazuru (33) one of the coaches said the kids needed a lot of training equipment which ranges from uniforms, first aid kits, spring trampoline, balls, nets and landing mattresses.
“We are facing financial problems resulting in us failing to purchase all the equipment needed for all the seven sporting disciplines and we are unable to carry out cleaning awareness programmes due to transport costs”, said Beauty.
The coaches are also engaged in pre-school gymnastics and aerobics training so as to generate income.
“We get cash by conducting aerobics lessons at pre-schools around Chitungwiza, but that is not adequate for all our needs,” Ngwaji said.
The excited children at the centre said they enjoyed having fun through sports and were eager to show this writer the skills they have acquired in gymnastics, martial arts, basketball and volleyball, among other disciplines.