South Africa is a country heard about by many and explored by little. The media indulge in the violence and drug abuse behind the country’s capital. Johannesburg. As of February 2017, I experienced South Africa intimately in what became the most incredible and unforgettable few weeks of my life. (so far…)
I went to SA, based in the friendly city of Port Elizabeth. Living and working with the charity; United Through Sport, who work with schools in townships, to provide sport lessons. You may think that teaching a child sport is not that important, but due to the lack of funding at schools within South Africa, it is not on their curriculum to provide sport or physical education. This is where UTS come in. The charity visits 3 schools a day, 5 days a week. Same schools each week. Myself and many others coached a sport of our choice to the kids who chose our sport. I coached Netball and Hockey, but there was also Tennis, Cricket, Football and Swimming available.
Now, if you know me, you will know my extent of sport is the bare minimum. Apart from going to the gym a few times a week , or taking part in school competitions 5/6 years ago, at no point have i ever considered myself to be a fitness enthusiast. Let alone a sport coach. However, these girls are not expecting athletes, and even just ten minutes of dribbling a hockey ball around a few cones brings sparkles to their eyes. The children have so little and it means so much to them to be able to have fun and play sport. They would play in ripped trousers and broken shoes but with smiles bigger and brighter that you can imagine. UTS isn’t trying to change the world, but just bring a bit of happiness into the kids lives, and that is what i loved.
During my time coaching, i was lucky enough to meet some fab people from all across the world who basically become your family. Working, eating, and living with everyone meant we made such a tight bond, We were able to travel across South Africa to some of the most incredible locations, including Coffee Bay, Tsitsikamma, Grahamstown and more. Lets not forget, whats the point in going to Africa if you don’t go on Safari…
The poverty which flooded the townships broke my heart, but the amount of love and passion from the kids made every second unbelievable. Pictures will never do justice, and if you ever get the chance to go to SA, take it and run. Because i guarantee you will fall in love with the country within minutes. South Africa, i will return, there is more of you yet to discover.