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REVITALISED ORLANDO WEST PARK COURT CONTINUES TO THRILL SOWETANS

Brümilda Swartbooi

The revitalised multipurpose court at Orlando West Park in the Soweto suburb of the same name continues to be a popular attraction with locals, six months after its official launch. Powerade, a sports drink created and sold by The Coca-Cola Company that hydrates and replenishes electrolytes during exercise, spearheaded the project. The multipurpose court was officially unveiled in December of last year.

As part of the extensive renovations, the court was equipped with facilities for both netball and basketball, among other enhancements.

Cllr Lubabalo Magwentshu, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Community Development, expresses his delight with the upgrades and the public-private partnership that made it possible.

“Enhanced recreational amenities provide constructive activities for the youth, steering them away from potentially harmful behaviours and environments,” says Cllr. Magwentshu.

Six months after the upgrade, Minenhle Cele, Senior Horticulturist for Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo in Region D, reports that residents are thoroughly enjoying the new facilities.

“The community is very happy with the facility,” says Cele. He notes that the primary goal of the upgrade was to create an environment that accommodates popular sports in the community.

Cele also expresses gratitude for the partnership with Powerade, highlighting that the upgrade has attracted many residents back to the park.

“The partnership with Powerade gave us more returns than we had anticipated with a state-of-the-art facility. The park now has a five-a-side soccer facility, which needed some upgrades, so this Powerade sponsorship couldn’t have come at a better time.”

“The upgrades have also increased the usage of the park significantly, making it more active than before, and as we know, there is safety in numbers,” Cele adds.

Orlando West is nestled in the heart of the Soweto suburb of Orlando, one of the oldest settlements in the sprawling township. It is home to South Africa’s oldest soccer club, Orlando Pirates.

Orlando West Park is a verdant space complete with visually appealing aesthetics. It boasts an array of play equipment, including a netball and basketball court, a professional-size football pitch, and a 1 km jogging track. It also features an outdoor gym for patrons to enjoy. The park’s theme is birds and butterflies, with handcrafted figures of both species erected on poles. The park overlooks the Orlando Stadium precinct and is planted with endemic succulent trees, as well as 300 olive trees.

“By offering safe spaces for sports and recreation, the City can play a pivotal role in youth development, reducing crime rates, and promoting a sense of community responsibility among young people,” MMC Magwentshu adds.

The park also includes a large playground catering to the physically handicapped, featuring a walking ramp and a wheelchair-friendly maze. Colourful flowerbeds and a dedicated braai area allow families and friends to enjoy a full day outside, watching sports on the sprawling lawn. 

“It also helps in attracting our young patrons away from social ills that plague our township,” Cele says.

Construction of the park was completed in July 2009 at a cost of R16-million.

Orlando West Park is easily accessible. Take the Soweto Highway and turn onto Klipspruit Valley Road. Turn right away from the stadium, then right onto Nkwanca Street, and right onto Armitage Street, where the park is located.

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