01 Dec, 2013

A Close-knit Club

A Close-knit Club

By ‘word of mouth’ in recent months, Newlands AC has become a much more noticeable and proactive club in the KwaZulu-Natal region, even though they’re a relatively small group of 82 members. “The club, two decades old now, was formed by members of the Newlands community, and we have a band of hardworking members who give their time and energy,” says Club Chairman Raj Rabbikisson. He says the club’s mission this year is to make a meaningful difference in the community and get more people active and healthy. “What we want to do is grow membership – especially with youngsters who have the desire to get fit – and form partnerships with other sporting clubs.”


Raj adds that while the club’s philosophy now is focused on promoting exercise so kids can fight obesity, they also have other community-based goals in mind. “We also want to engage with the wider community by assisting in social upliftment programmes, for example, assisting orphanages and schools.”



As a KwaZulu-Natal club, the Comrades Marathon is always an event the club puts on a proverbial pedestal, with 29 participants in 2012, of which 24 crossed the finish line. The club traditionally organises a pre-Comrades pasta party to share some pre-race running tips from the experts and ‘psyche up’ those participating! The pasta party is not only a means to carbo-load, but also gives the Comrades novices an outlet to ask questions. Then after Comrades, the club hosts a family fun day to celebrate a conquered Comrades. “It reinforces general camaraderie,” says Raj, “and we also thank those who aren’t running, but are out there marshalling our water stations.”



At the end of each year, the club awards function celebrates those members who achieved their personal bests and the challenge races the club marks out each year. “To promote interest and participation, we draw up a list of 25 races,” says Raj, “and members are challenged to participate in a minimum of 10 races from the list. Those who achieve this are rewarded, and this has proved to be a real stimulus for club members to support races – even walkers can participate!” To ensure the success of the awards evening, members rally around donating trophies, printing and selling tickets, taking photographs and doing the evening’s slideshow.


In the past, the club hosted a 42km and 15km and would like to get these races going again to boost the club’s profile and grow membership. Joining Newlands is an easy decision – it’s an affordable fee of R220 per year, says Raj. “For new members, the club can offer a lot! We have many experienced runners and walkers to guide new members, no matter what their goal.”