Handing over the facility to the Central Karoo community in the Western Cape on Tuesday, President Zuma said to counter drug abuse, alcoholism and gangsterism that are ravaging poor communities, there was a need to offer youth in these communities the same positive lifestyle alternatives that youth in the wealthy suburbs are afforded.
“The world class sport and recreation facilities available in this youth hub will provide young people from poor communities with opportunities to participate on a better footing and help transform sport in our country.
“The swimming pool is half Olympic size and is expected to host swimming clubs and competitive galas for the region. Hopefully the next generation of Chad Le Clos and Penny Heyns will come from this area,” explained President Zuma.
He said the gymnasium was fitted with equipment that was the same quality as the equipment that can be found in the best private gyms in the country. The equipment was donated by the Virgin Active Group.
“This gym shows what can be done when government and the private sector form partnerships to develop poor communities,” said the President.
The combi courts at the youth hub can be used for multiple sports codes such as soccer, netball and hockey.
They have been fitted with solar lighting to allow young people the chance to play sport deep into the evening without having to burden the community or the municipality with high electricity bills.
“These principles of sustainability are applied throughout the youth hub. From the water harvesting tanks to natural lighting in the gym, this facility proves that with prudent design, environmental and economical sustainability can be achieved.“
The ICT centre means all members of the local community will have access to free high speed internet and information technologies and will be integrated to the larger global information community.
There is also an amphitheatre and refurbished community hall which are intended for daily use by the larger community.
The Beaufort West Youth Hub was officially launched on Mandela Day on 18 July 2012 by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti.
This followed extensive consultation with local communities, youth in the area, the district and local municipality and the Rural Infrastructure Development Branch of the department, to develop the concept design.
The construction of the youth hub commenced in October 2013 and was completed in April 2015.
The fully equipped skills centre at the youth hub, which is being operated by South Cape College, will provide training in business administration, end user computing and early childhood development to 200 National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) participants per year.
NARYSEC is a long-term programme where only rural youth is targeted, recruited and contracted for a period of two years.
Youth between the ages of 18 and 25 years old from rural wards are recruited and then enrolled for training in various skills that will equip them, both with theoretical and practical knowledge, to create employment for themselves and other people in their communities.
The President said it is a critical component of NARYSEC that the youth must go back home to apply their skills in the rural villages they originate from.
“The NARYSEC youth must also share their skills with their families and friends. This, at the end of the day, will lead to the future development of our country by these graduates and more specifically the rural areas.”
The youth were also involved in the construction of the youth hub and the programme is also establishing a co-operative for the youth in construction in order to do the maintenance of the youth hub.
It is also busy setting up co-operatives to handle and provide security services to the youth hub and ten learners in cleaning services in order to provide these services to the hub.
President Zuma trusted the community is aware of other investments in youth that government is undertaking.
“This Youth Hub is a Pilot project and the first of its kind, and with this one as our first experience; we will roll it out to other provinces as well,” he added.