Play can be therapeutic

BEING older than her school- going playmates does not deter Nomsa (not her real name) from joining them for afternoons of sweat and fun.

BEING older than her school- going playmates does not deter Nomsa (not her real name) from joining them for afternoons of sweat and fun.

"I love sport because when I'm on the field playing netball I don't think about all the sad things that have happened in my life," Nomsa says.

Nomsa has lived most of her adult life on the streets of Johannesburg after leaving her home in the Eastern Cape when she was 16 years old.

"Being able to play netball here has helped me stop taking drugs. Now all I want to do is to learn to play cricket and soccer," she says.

She joins scores of children who live in Johannesburg's inner city at the Drill Hall's Thembalethu centre for afternoons of soccer, netball, cricket, traditional dances and games .

The sport activities are part of A Chance to Play, a project run by international children's rights organisation Terre des Hommes and the Joburg Child Welfare.

The project is also run in Eastern Cape and Limpopo and promotes play in disadvantaged areas by running coaching clinics and tournaments in soccer, netball, cricket and rugby. The children also receive life skills training.

Play coordinator Elliot Hluthwa says children who live in the inner city often miss out on opportunities to play because of the poor conditions in places where they live.

"Their homes have very little space. They resort to playing on balconies, which can be dangerous in high-rise buildings. Some loiter in the streets because they have nothing to do," Hluthwa says.

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