Sporting a brand new look the Vusi Masina soccer stadium in the picturesque town of Waterval Boven in Mpumalanga hosted a soccer tournament of dreams on 21 March 2009 to celebrate a successful clean up by the community as a result of a partnership between HEARTLINES, Dreamfields, big businesses in the area and the local council.
For two weekends in a row the stadium has been a hive of activity. On the first weekend over 350 soccer team players and school children scrubbed and painted walls, scraped the change room’s roof of rust, cut grass and cleared rubbish. The next weekend saw these same players and learners, nattily dressed in brand new soccer kit, celebrating the restoration of the soccer field with a full day HEARTLINES DreamEvent soccer tournament.
The stadium clean up and tournament are a result of a partnership between HEARTLINES, Dreamfields (an NGO that supports soccer development); the Waterval Boven and Machadodorp Community Development Forums and various corporates in the area – Assmang Chrome, Nkomati Mine and TRAC, as well as the Emakhazeni Local Council, which provided all the tools, equipment and expertise for the cleanup and tournament. But the sweat and hard work, both on and off the field, was supplied by the community itself.
Speaking at the HEARTLINES DreamEvent tournament, Dr Zolile Mlisana, the Chairperson of HEARTLINES noted that "today’s tournament is a tournament of dreams". Watching the 18 teams and hundreds of spectators at the DreamEvent – playing ball, warming up and cheering the players on, he expressed hope that "every weekend will be like today."
Mr Sipho Makhunga, who chaired the Task Team responsible for overseeing the stadium clean up and tournament, noted that "the process of restoring the stadium and hosting a full day soccer tournament has been an incredibly powerful tool to unite the community to do good for change." Do good for change is the call to action that HEARTLINES has put out during the six weeks that HOPEVILLE, a six week drama series screens on SABC 2 (every Tuesday at 19h30 from 2 March to 7 April).
Mr Makhunga identified the biggest challenge facing the Task Team as raising funds for the cleanup and tournament, especially in light of the global economic down turn. "What convinced funders to rise to the occasion and support this project is that it was not just about providing money, but was about instilling values, including hope, courage, perseverance, responsibility and service in that the community itself had to labour to restore the stadium."
Speaking on behalf of the Task Team, Mr Makhunga expressed hope that the HEARTLINES DreamEvent soccer tournament would be an annual event. "The dream will never die, providing the Waterval Boven community shows its commitment to caring for and taking responsibility for the Vusi Masina stadium," he said.