Ajax has had a majority stake in Ajax Cape Town in South Africa since 1999. In the Message from Cape Town column every Monday, we feature the African Ajax. In the eleventh edition of this season, we take a look at the clinic that Cape Town held in Johannesburg.
Recently, the South African Ajax players were in Randburg, a Johannesburg neighbourhood, and they gave the kids there an unforgettable afternoon. “We give clinics to kids outside of Cape town about two or three times a year. The one time it will be in a shanty town, another time in a neighbourhood like Randburg; a good area of Johannesburg where kids are fairly privileged”, explains coach Maarten Stekelenburg. After his team had played a thrilling match on Friday evening (3-2 loss), the kids were waiting for Ajax on Saturday.
“Ajax is known for giving back to the community”, says Stekelenburg. “We do social work in Cape town every week, and outside the city too. Ajax is becoming more and more known, I’ve noticed. The fact that Ajax ended last season in second place has given the club an enormous boost. Ajax is now seen as a bigger club than last season.”
About 150 kids – from FC Randburg and other clubs from the LFA (Local Football Association) – enjoyed themselves immensely with the pro footballers. “It’s a great experience”, says Stekelenburg. “It’s good for the kids to see that their dream to play football can become reality. Some guys on our time come from a similar background as these kids; and they’re their role models. They visit the kids and give them hope for the future. We had seven stations in the training, with groups of two or three players. After ten minutes, we rotated. The exercises varied from taking shots on goal to how to warm up.”
The players don’t consider it a sacrifice to do these clinics. Many are familiar with these kids’ situations from their own experience. “Most of all, it’s so rewarding. The players, including Sander Westerveld who was new to it all, thought it was a great experience.”
At the end of the clinic, the kids received a poster and an autograph session was set up so that they could get a signature from each player on their poster. “This is very rewarding”, said Stekelenburg, speaking from the heart. Next week, Ajax Cape Town can be found every Saturday in the Cape town neighbourhoods where Roadshows are taking place. Stay tuned to this column to find out more about what these are.