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Efforts to have village game recognised globally

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There is a game that got played on the dusty streets of Limpopo villages in the Sixties. The most dominant view yet is seemingly based on memories of a vibey sport most popular in the late Seventies and early Eighties. Now a local sport fanatic is driving an initiative to get the game of relayball recognised as a sporting code internationally.
Norman Mavhunga is steering the initiative for an introductory campaign of the game in Limpopo, countrywide as well as internationally and the subsequent establishment of an international relayball council. In January this year he finished compiling the golden rule book for a game that he used to play on the streets of Zamenkomste village in the Makhado area as a young boy. He recalls that it used to be constituted by teams inclusive of boys and girls and was known by different names in different languages: Duvheke in Tshivenda, Luvheke in Tshitsonga and Dibeke in Sepedi. Mavhunga recalls hours of fun at playing Dibeke.
It was the cheapest game a child in a rural area could play, as all that was required were a stick to draw the defining border lines on the ground and a ball made of remnants of plastic bags, he points out. Nowadays it would be replaced with a size 2 soccer ball.
The term relayball was decided on for the sake of English being the common global denominator, Ma-
vhunga explains. The game is based on the premise of two players positioned on the throw side and shoot side of an enclosed area 18 metres in length. Most of the game takes part in an additional play area of 29 metres. The playmaker attempts to complete laps upon kicking back the ball that gets tossed in a swoop motion. The shooting side plays one playmaker at a time opposite five fielders and a lead fielder, who executes the throws. Scoring is allocated in five different types of execution according to complete or partial runs. A maximum of 120 throws are allowed per side or until the player wants to leave the field. The model used has been adapted for a two-day invitational allowing for one team on one side over the period of one day, Mavhunga adds.
He explains that his fascination with the game made him believe that it could be introduced formally to other communities globally.
The Iloverelayball Limpopo campaign is set for intended kick-off towards the second half of December when a pilot game should put to the test the rule book, Mavhu-nga points out. Already several possible stakeholders have indicated interest and willingness to commit, he adds.
According to Mavhunga the benefits to Limpopo would include keeping children out of mischief and a contribution to infrastructure development through the provision of adapted fields to be introduced upon buy-in in regions of the province.
Mavhunga concludes with the prediction of a positive reaction to the proposal for relayball to be eventually recognised as a sporting code.

YOLANDE NEL
>>observer.yolande@gmail.com