South Africa U19s Bring Smiles to Children’s Faces at Lakehaven

In the spirit of Youth Day, June 16, a day that honours those who sacrificed their lives to make freedom possible for all during the Soweto student uprisings in 1976, the Coca-Cola South Africa under-19s visited the Lakehaven Child and Youth Care Centre in Durban on Sunday.

The 15-man squad led by captain, Bryce Parsons, spent the afternoon at the centre in Newlands East, with the players taking the youngsters through a fun coaching clinic before they took each other on in mini-cricket matches. 

“It was really nice to see the kids smile,” Parsons said following the day’s activities. “To let them have something that they don’t often get, to make them happy, and for a change not necessarily have the camera (and attention) on us but on them.

“As a youth national team, all the struggles that happened in the past gave us the opportunity that we’ve got today, to play for our country in such diversity. It is such an amazing opportunity that we’ve been given because of those battles we’ve been through in the past (as a country),” he continued. 

The Lakehaven home, which was found in 1958 is registered to cater to 60 kids, who have been neglected, abandoned or had been living in abusive environments and are placed at the centre by the order of the courts. The home’s aim includes equipping the children with skills to be self-sustainable while providing a safe, stimulating and caring environment.

The care centre is a part of the Child Welfare Durban and District organisation, which cares for thousands of vulnerable kids within the Durban region. The Income and Development Manager and Spokesperson, Zane Mchunu, explained what the day meant to the children and what the centre does on a day-to-day basis.  

“Today has been exciting for us,” he stated. “June 16 commemorates a really significant moment in our lives as South Africans and to share that with our youth at the Lakehaven Child and Youth Care Centre together with Cricket South Africa and our U19s team, is really encouraging for our young kids.  

“As a Child and Youth Care Centre, our biggest challenge is always funding because we never want to stop bringing in kids who need our help. Where we can help, we help and every single child at the centre has had a terrible past. Some have been outright abandoned, some through court orders have been placed at our child and youth care centre.  

“We endeavour to give them the best care we possibly can with the limited resources we have and so, while it is called a child and youth care centre, the set up at Lakehaven is a homely one.  

“We want to get our kids understanding that where they are is home, they are loved, they are safe and we advocate for their protection every day. It runs like every home does but with many children.”

The day served as a break from the team’s regular scheduling, as they continue to prepare for the upcoming Youth One-Day International (ODI) series against Pakistan in Chatsworth and Pietermaritzburg, taking place from 22 June – 07 July.  

© Cricket World 2019