Hope 4 Kids netball 740

The Noxolo Gxekwa memorial netball tournament at Nelson Mandela University’s Missionvale campus was such a success that schools are already clamouring for another one.

This was how Hope 4 Kids founder and tournament organiser Linda Odolo described the recent event, which catered for U13 to senior players and attracted 30 teams.

She said that following the Covid disruption they were delighted to be back in action.

“Hope 4 Kids normally hosts tournaments throughout the year but this is the first one since the pandemic,” she said.

“It really meant a lot to the children to get out there and play because they haven’t had any action since lockdown started. Everyone was hungry for the game and happy to be on court.”

Odolo said schools were already enquiring when the next one will take place.

“But, before having any other tournaments, we need to do some coaching clinics at the schools because they are a bit behind with all the new rules.

She explained that Hope 4 Kids was a non-profit organisation that mentored teachers on coaching techniques in all sporting codes.

Hope 4 Kids netball 740

The Amigo Stars won the U16 section of the Noxolo Gxekwa memorial netball tournament at Nelson Mandela University’s Missionvale campus recently. The event, arranged by the Hope 4 Kids charity, attracted 30 teams ranging from U13 to senior. Photo: Supplied

The second aim of the body, which was established in 2013 with five primary schools on its books, is to instil sports participation and a sense of discipline in youngsters.

The programme has since been expanded to a total of 55 schools.

“We choose schools within the Nelson Mandela Metro and they play league matches and tournaments throughout the year,” said Odolo, who focuses on the discipline of netball.

She added that the recent tournament was held in honour of former colleague and coach Noxolo Gxekwa, who had passed away in April.

“She was extremely passionate and dedicated her life to helping others through netball.”

Odolo said they were looking forward to further competitions.

“The day was a great success and we managed to select teams in all the age groups (U13, U14, U16 and U19) to tour and compete against the teams in the East London region.”

The tournament was supported by SPAR Eastern Cape as the family retailer continued its drive to give back to its communities.

“We really have to recognise SPAR, and sponsorships and events manager Alan Stapleton, for assisting us to host this event,” said Odolo.

“This sponsorship did everything to make our tournament possible and I would also like to thank Alan for attending the opening function and giving a few words of encouragement to the players.”

Stapleton said it was a perfect platform to promote the sport as the SPAR Proteas prepared for next year’s World Cup.

“With the Netball World Cup in Cape Town next year, mini-tournaments like the Hope 4 Kids initiative are an ideal way of spreading the word and creating a flame of expectancy among players in the region,” he said.

“And it is so wonderful for SPAR to support an event of this nature and to see the excitement and joy of the players gathering together in a spirit of friendly but competitive camaraderie.”