Giving kids a 50-hour sporting chance

13 October 2010 - 01:41 By ANDILE NDLOVU

Brad Bing would like everyone to come out and play. The man who developed Sporting Chance - a project to encourage children to go out and play sports, brings his 50-hour sports challenge campaign to Johannesburg this week.

The idea is to get a lot of kids playing 15 different sports - among them cricket, hockey, soccer, touch rugby, basketball, table tennis and netball - and to keep it going for 50 uninterrupted hours.

The children will be joined by former Test cricketers Paul Adams and Herschelle Gibbs, and soccer players Roberto Santo and Joseph Kamwendo of the Vasco da Gama soccer club.

When the same thing was done in Cape Town last month it drew 32 schools in the Western Cape to the Western Province Cricket Club's sports centre and was also graced by the former Test cricketers. The Challenge is now in its fifth year.

Bing hopes that it will not only lure children to sport, but keep them hooked and - who knows? - produce future stars for Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

From Friday to Sunday, the Challenge takes place at the Southern Suburbs Recreation Centre in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg.

"The importance of sport for a nation is huge," said Bing. "If we don't teach kids that by the age of 12, the chances of them taking up a sport and staying active are minimal. It [sport] picks everyone up and if we didn't realise that during and after the 2010 World Cup, then we never will."

Sporting Chance is now 20 years old and has launched various sports projects like calypso cricket and street soccer. Among today's sports stars who have come through the ranks of Sporting Chance are Highveld Lions cricketer Thami Tsolekile. In his youth, Proteas star Jacques Kallis used to assist, as did WP rugby captain Anton van Zyl and former Bok scrumhalf Neil de Kock.

Bing wants to raise the profile of sports facilities, or lack of them.

"We will never develop talent unless we offer communities access to quality facilities," he said. "At the moment [some of] the facilities are horrific. Also there needs to be quality coaching. We all think we're good coaches but better coaches to encourage mass participation are needed in order to spawn more Bryan Habanas and Makhaya Ntinis."