'Curries Fountain' - The Unique Stadium for both Sport and Political Struggle.
“Curries” a name associated to the vibrant stadium in the struggle days, particularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s, influenced the interaction of Black people within a socio-political and cultural environment in Durban and South Africa. The historical and socio-cultural experiences of all the people that used Curries Fountain, created non-racialism and a popular culture that needs to be preserved in the context of change and transformation in South Africa. The venue was popular with social and political activists, gang leaders, sports persons, cultural activists, including those that represented apartheid forces. Curries Fountain was a venue for the disadvantage Black population of Kwa-Zulu, Durban to organize social and political events that assisted the integration of Black people in their quest for common identity. Historically, the stadium is a sense, a microcosm of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa.
The future of Curries Fountain is not only of valuable interest to South Africans but also the international community. The Curries Fountain stadium was situated on the property of Mr H W Currie, a councilor and mayor of Durban. The spring on his property was converted into a fountain that supplied water in Durban during periods when there was a shortage. The area where the water pump was located became Curries Fountain.
Above: Curries Fountain today still is a hub for social and political activity with just as many followers since it's inception.
Above: Soccer Legends of yesteryear clash in the name of sport and competition despite being of different race groups, in a time where mixing of race groups was frowned upon.
The Stadium housed both amateur and professional soccer. The Professional League promoted integration of so-called non-white teams by secretly registering Black African players. During the 1960’s teams that participated at the Stadium included, Aces United, Avalon Athletics, Berea, Sundowns, Orlando Pirates, Moroko Swallows, Bush Bucks, Zulu Royals, Transvaal United and many more. These teams produced top class soccer and equal to their white counterparts like Durban City, Addington and Durban United. Some of the top players produced during that period include Henry ‘Black Cat’ Cele, ‘Sugar Ray’ Xulu, Dharam Mohan, Lionel Hamiel, Daya Maistry, ‘Excellent’ Mthembu, David Khoza, Scara Wanda, George Francis, Standley McTavish, Strini Moodley and Sewnarain Lall, Duggie Perumal and Stanley Govender.
Above: Political Struggle at it's height during apartheid
The Curries Fountain Stadium was not only used for soccer. Cricket and athletics were also popular sports played on the grounds. The athletic track saw some top class athletes such as Erol Khan, Beverley Peters, Ismail Kolia, Rakesh Sewduth, Naseema Ebrahim, Mark Neethling, Jock Maduray, Karamchand Hiramen, Lux Gordhan, Kiruben Naidoo, and many others. The boxing authorities often used the stadium for matches. Nagoor Govender, Tap Tap Makathini and Joe Ngidi were some of the famous boxers that competed at the stadium.
The cricket turf wicket was the first in South Africa for Black cricket players, and teams from India, Ghana and Kenya played matches at the stadium.
The anti-apartheid formations and political activists held many gatherings, meetings and rallies, sometimes under the pretext of organizing sport and cultural programmes. Some of the major political events were the Viva Frelimo in 1976 rally organized by the Black Consciousness Movement to celebrate the coming to power of Samora Machel. There was a strike against land tax in 1913 when 6000 people assembled to listen to Thumbi Naidoo, a political activist and friend of Mahatma Gandhi. The burning of the Dompas Campaign in 1959 led by Inkosi Albert Luthuli, the launch of Cosatu in 1985 and the re-launching of the ANC Women’s league in 1990.
Many cultural events were held in the 1970’s including music festivals and multi-racial concerts, sometimes under police surveillance. Black groups such as the Jets, Flames and Invaders provided entertainment.
Above: Curries Fountain as it stands today, has received praise from the public for its well kept-facilities and current events held each week.
The gatherings at Curries Fountain sometimes served as an opportunity for gang warfare during or after events. One of the contributing factors to gang warfare was the socio-political and cultural context of apartheid South Africa. Gangs like Salots, Dashines and Crimson League chose certain sections of the Stadium as designated territory for their activities and the area close to Curries Fountain, Victoria Street and Warwick Avenue became gang fight areas. Curries Fountain was the only venue available to Black Liberation Movements and for many working class Black people the venue offered and developed a socio-cultural experience.
Curries Fountain was undoubtedly the centre of community activity that produced real freedom fighters in politics, sport, culture and education and the legacy of which still lives on.
A partnership exists between the eThekwini Municipality who owns the land, the Durban University of Technology, the former Durban Sports Ground Association and representatives from Civil Society structures. A section 21 (not for gain) company known as Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre manages and control the stadium. While plans are being finalised for the infrastructure, the Centre will be involved in Development Projects targeting disadvantaged areas. To date approximately R2.5 million has been spent to upgrade the facilities. The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund has supported the Centre. One of the partners, the Durban University of Technology a partner urgently requires certain facilities and amenities and favourable consideration has been given to their needs. These include students sports union, the housing of the Department of Sports Studies, indoor sports centre and lectures theatres.
In addition to what the Board has regarded as important to the facility, it also believes that the Centre has to be a historical landmark, possible tourist node, a heritage site or to declare the site a Monument and Human Resource Development Centre.
The development programmes to be implemented will target marginalized groups especially, youth, women, elderly, differently-abled and the unemployed. The emphasis of this project will be on youth talent identification and development, capacity building and human resources development. People, particularly from disadvantaged communities will be able to specialize in certain sports, acquire the necessary administrative skills to organize and manage sports clubs and associations, and hold positions at all levels of the sporting administration, through carefully designed and accredited educational programmes and certification.
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The Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre is a unique multifaceted project and with Durban University of Technology as an important partner brings to the table their vast infra-structural resources and their academic programmes. The notion of excellence is seen as a result of the process of developing Sport as a recreational outlet in addition to the competitive angle it normally occupies.
In essence, at the heart of this project is to cultivate the capacity of Sport as a tool to rebuild a better civil society and in so doing rid it of the social evils that currently beset it. The Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre aims to enrich the lives of the people of Kwa-Zulu Natal, particularly within the eThekwini Municipality Boundaries through quality and lifelong participation in Sports and Recreation which will facilitate the development of the individual both as a sportsperson as well as a valuable member of a non-racial, prosperous and sports-enthusiastic society.
A cornerstone of this project is a “ Sports for All “ policy which prescribes that its future should be in pursuit of genuine development and participation of all people based on their needs and aspirations.
The Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre juxtaposed between the Durban University of Technology Campuses and is located in the vicinity of Berea station, Durban’s busiest railway station, bus terminals and taxi ranks, making it highly accessible to the exiting public transport network from all parts of the Durban functional region.
Environmentally, it will be part of the “Green Space “ that extends from the sports fields of the Steve Biko Campus, alongside the Botanical Gardens, past the Greyville Racecourse and the Royal Durban Golf Course.
Research leading into the development of the Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre concept has shown that very limited opportunities are being created for communities to participate in recreation and sports activities. The sporting and recreational needs of the masses of the previously disadvantaged communities continue to remain in a state of neglect. The reasons for such are numerous and varied but it is hoped that through a project like the Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre, we will bring about positive change.
It was established that whilst communities appreciate the improvements made to existing facilities and the provision of new facilities, the concern is the lack of empowerment and capacity building programmes. Human Resource Development underpins most initiatives and must be given priority so that communities can develop their skills to form clubs; societies and associations. In this way recreation and sport can be promoted, developed and sustained in areas where people live in. This approach would be in keeping with the National Sport and Recreation Ministry’s concern about transformation in sport and recreation.
Another fact that has to be considered is that, for hosting of international sports events and tourism to be successful, it is absolutely necessary to have local support. Communities must become loyal to the sport and the only way is to create opportunities for them through the promotion and development programmes.
The formation of sports and recreation co-ordinating structures will certainly assist in the payment of tariffs for usage of facilities. Also, when facilities are used regularly whether it is for development programmes or competitions, the large numbers that support theses activities will create some opportunities for employment and business for casual vendors.
BENEFITS FOR ALL THE TARGETED PARTNERS AND FUNDERS
The creation of a Sports Development Centre within the areas of eThekwini Municipality and in the province of Kwa Zulu Natal will produce enormous short and long term benefits:
Given the historical significance of the Curries Fountain Stadium, the development of a “must-see” museum and associated infrastructure will be paramount. As a unique Institution, the Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre will tremendously boost the image of the eThekwini Municipality, and make it ‘the’ sports tourism destination.
It will encourage economic activity for the sectors such as hotels, restaurants, street vendors, transportation, clothing and many others.
Advertising and Branding
There will be exclusive branding and association opportunities for substantial funders. Viz. Naming rights
The number of quality athletes from Kwa Zulu Natal, suitable for national team selection will increase, giving us pride and the opportunity for corporates’ player endorsements among other things.
Improve the health situation of communities through participation in sport and recreational activities.
The Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre will serve as a prototype for satellite sports development centres, particularly in Townships and rural areas.
Sports Medicine and Drug Testing Centre
The aim of the Centre is to improve the overall sporting performance of a participant and a team whether they participate for recreational purposes or at an excellence level. The programmes will be multidisciplinary application of sports nutrition; sports medicine; sports vision; sports podiatry; exercise science and sports psychology. There is a desperate need to build physically strong players and the introduction of sports medicine and sports science at an early age is critical. Also, it will afford Durban the opportunity to be one of the few venues for drug testing.
In the estimated costs for the project an amount will be set aside for training purposes. About 18 months before completion of the project, the staff required would be determined. Unemployed people who have the potential will be engaged and trained to fill the various staffing positions, including secretaries, receptionists, cleaners etc. In this way the centre would in some way reduce the unemployment rate.
Board of Directors would like input from past sport administrators; players; political activists and civil society organisations. A decision has been taken to form a committee, the Friends of Curries Fountain. A special plea is made for all interested individuals to contact the Centre and make their inputs as to the future of Curries Fountain.