The Timberlea sports day was held in Stellenbosch, 30th May 2009, with all 5 farms in attendance.

Despite the gloomy weather conditions, as many as 500 people attended, from an anticipated 600. Police were present to oversee the day’s proceedings, and farm managers greatly assisted with the day’s activities.

The sports day was a great success – all the children, parents, spectators and staff had a very enjoyable time – the workers still talk about it today. The impact of the day on the workers was tremendous – one cannot comprehend the enjoyment that the day brought to the workers, and it will be remembered for a long time. The gratitude from the Bokkeveld Farms was unbelievable. It is hard to conceptualize what a treat it was for the workers just to come to Stellenbosch. They got up at as early as 04h30 in the morning in order to participate in the parade through Cloetesville.

The camaraderie itself was great – and I think overall the day did help to develop the synergy between all the farm workers. However, it must be understood that it takes time to get people working together effectively, with no easy solution and therefore more events such as the sports day will help to develop farm worker unity.

Since the Sports Day, soccer teams have been formed on all the farms – Timberlea has entered a soccer team in the Wynland League – and we have had a soccer management meeting at Timberlea already, with discussions over the next Waitrose Project. This will involve the development of the soccer team – which is really great and very positive. I know that the other farms are also in the process of getting this together.

Planning the day – planning such an event was something we soon found was beyond the capabilities of the farm workers, largely due to the lack of experience in such planning. However it is a long term goal for us to get the necessary training for the farm workers.
The original plan was to have the sports day in April, but it took longer to plan than anticipated. The organization of worker meetings was much harder than anticipated – due to the differences in workers lunch hours.
Unfortunately, in the end all planning and organisation was done by myself and Janita. It is a slow process to train staff – and the need for planning only becomes evident when things don’t happen or go wrong. Due to the size of the event – everything had to run smoothly – so I took over.

Food – with such volumes of food, it is not possible for the workers to pick up 1500 rolls, 80 kg sausage, all the condiments on the day before the event – and this all had to happen in office hours. The co-ordination of all the food – getting it to the venue, packing up after the event was handled by senior management.

Workers Committee – I have noticed that most of the staff simply want to be liked by everyone – very few are prepared to take on a management role, make a decision and accept responsibility and accountability for their decision. However, what the Sports Day did provide for me – was the opportunity to identify key leaders.

Advice to other farms – don’t try and do too much. Our schedule involved too many activities – Soccer, Netball, Rugby, Athletics as well as Novelty Races – we were too optimistic. It is not feasible to do so much on one day – Keep it simple and restrict the number of events. Do not have soccer and netball matches running at the same time – you need the crowds to cheer them on.

I tried to get teams setup before the event. I spent literally hours and hours getting teams setup so that they could just arrive on the day and participate. This is not possible – let them arrive on the day – and there and then decide what event they would like to participate in.

Have lots and lots of prizes – don’t just give medals to the first 3 places – it is so important to the child – award prizes to the first five places.

In conclusion, it was a really great day – an enormous success and the workers on all the farms were very appreciative that they were given the opportunity to participate.

You and I cannot comprehend but some of the children had never participated in an egg and spoon race before – my recollection of the day will be that at the finish line of the egg and spoon race – what remained of the one egg was a partial yolk – the shell and white had all disappeared before the child arrived at the finish line!

The Waitrose Foundation gave many workers a very lovely memory on the 30th May 2009 – thank you!

With regards the Sports Day itself – I am concerned that I ended up doing all the planning, co-ordination and control thereof and we all know that that is not the aim of the Waitrose Foundation.

It is vitally important that farm workers work towards the planning of their own events, take on responsibility and give feedback to the Waitrose Foundation directly.

~ Marion Jeffery, Project Coordinator Timberlea ~