BASEBALL may be a Cinderella sport in South Africa but primary school learners in Du Noon township have donned the glass slipper and batting a ball.
The American sport was unsurprisingly unknown in the township until it was introduced by the Blaauwberg Baseball and Softball Club (BBSBC) four years ago and has grown in popularity to the extent that a Public Service Announcement commercial for television, to create awareness and education around the sport was shot in Du Noon last week.
BBSBC vice president Peter Hall said he initiated a baseball development programme at Du Noon primary school in 2007 and there are now 70 learners between grades 3 to 9 who are actively involved in the sport, and 16 learners have been selected to play in the Western Province baseball league this year.
The sport has also given some of the youth an alternative to drugs and crime.
Three of the 20 learners aged between 13 and 17 who participated in the PSA commercial last week were previously members of gangs in Du Noon, but have since cleaned up their act, said producer Laura Simpson from Giant Films, the company who is shooting the commercial free of charge.
“It’s wonderful. It’s amazing. If they do well on the field they also do well in class,” said Simpson.
The commercial, she said, would be aired on local television stations and would also be uploaded on YouTube for people to view.
She said they shot the commercial, which will be about 45 seconds long, in various locations in the township: in alleyways between shacks, on the street and in a house.
Simpson said there was not budget and costumes and catering was all donated.
Sophakama Primary school teacher Amos Siwayi, who is in charge of school sports, said learners participating in baseball have also improved in the classroom.
The shooting of the commercial had also created renewed interest and excitement for the sport, he said, with parents, teachers and learners looking forward to seeing the ad on television.
Siwayi said parents were very happy and the sport, together with the attention created by the filming, had boosted learners’ morael.
Hall said the success of the baseball development programme in Du Noon could lead to introducing the sport to other townships. — Peter Luhanga