Lwazi has a ball pitching in for Mdantsane community
Mlondolozi gives youth a better shot at life by single-handedly reviving the sport of baseball in the township
Baseball coach Lwazi Mlondolozi’s unique baseball intitiative is proving a catch in the streets of Mdantsane.
The Mdantsane Eagles club manager and coach, has through his baseball programme kept many a child off the streets since 2013.
“When I noticed that baseball was dead in Buffalo City, I contacted the late Mr Billy Magengelele to make a plan to revive it,” said Mlondolozi, who grew up in Mdantsane and was lucky enough to have Magengelele as his baseball coach.
He might have started out his baseball programme with the main aim of reviving the sport, but teaching kids the ins and outs of baseball has always been much more about fly balls and great pitching for Mlondolozi.
“I got hooked back in 1995 because it was played in front of my house, it was the closest sport to me,” said Mlondolozi, who added that he became fascinated with the sport after a baseball crashed through a window in his home when he was eight years old.
Picking the ball up and taking it back to the field near his home, Mlondolozi met Magengelele who encouraged him to grab a bat and take a swing.
“It gives kids an opportunity to showcase their talent and builds a sense of community by keeping them away from crime and substance abuse,” the coach said.
“I believe that it saved me from the streets when I was growing up and it can do the same for others.”
While managing the Eagles club, Mlondolozi, 32, has successfully created an Mdantsane Schools Baseball fixture which sees over 300 children participate in the sport.
Club practices take place daily from 3pm at Sakhile Senior Primary School in NU13.
With the help of teachers, former players in Mdantsane and the community’s support, school practices take place during school time in different areas in Mdantsane throughout the week.
“As a club we have about 50 kids playing from the age of eight years to 18. We currently have 14 schools participating in baseball around Mdantsane and I have four coaches who assist me,” he said.
“We also host tournaments for the schools, a youth tournament on Youth Day in June and then another one in September called the Legends Tournament.”
Last year, Mlondolozi launched the Billy Magengelele Baseball Revival Programme in memory of his former coach and mentor.
The programme sees international coaches visit rural schools around the Eastern Cape and conduct coaching clinics.
“As the vice-president of the Eastern Cape Baseball Association I also have a role to play provincially.
“We have a good relationship with an organisation called Play Global and through them, we will have an international coach come down every year for the programme,” Mlondolozi said.
Sivenathi Mzolwa, 17, joined the programme three years ago and has not looked back.
“I really enjoy playing baseball, it’s the only sport I feel comfortable playing,” he said.
Liviwe Payi said her interest in the sport took off in 2013 when she saw some boys playing on a field near her home.
“It keeps me busy and off the streets and I really like batting,” said Payi. Mlondolozi said his initiative was achieving its objectives.
“I knew I had to give back to my community because I pass kids every day who have nothing to do but play on the streets.”
Mlondolozi recently also introduced the Golden Eagles netball club into the programme.
“My aim is to have a sports club that will make the streets quiet and keep every child busy with a sport and positive activities.”
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