UTS Beneficiaries selected for EP teams

At United Through Sport we are committed to using sport to develop disadvantaged kids. Sport is a powerful tool that can be used to benefit learners and to create a lot of opportunities to excel.

The United Through Sport beneficiaries do not only excel academically but also on the sport field. The Eastern Province sports teams have been selected and we are proud to announce that ten of our beneficiaries have been chosen.

From our Junior School of Excellence(JSE) six learners were selected to represent the province and from the Senior School of Excellence(SSE) four learners were selected.

From the JSE Ethan Vitealingum from Papenkuil Primary and Jason Ndoni from Bethelsdorp Primary were selected for the U13 A rugby team. Caleb Gaseba and Wayvin Meyer from Astra Primary were selected for the U13 A boy’s hockey team and Trent Gunn was selected for the Vipers Indoor Hockey U12 B team. Shameese Hannies from Van der Kemp Primary has been selected for the U12 A netball team.

From the SSE Kayrian Le Minnie from Grey High School has been selected for the U 14 A boy’s hockey team and Storm Phillips also from Grey has been selected for the U16 A boy’s hockey team. Kaylin Fourie and Kyra Jurgens from Pearson High School were both selected for the U18 A girl’s hockey team. Excitingly Kyra was also selected for the U17 South Africa team due to her strong performance at the Provincial tournament. This is the second year in a row that Kyra has made the national age group side.

We are proud of these learners and we hope that they will serve as a motivation to our other beneficiaries.

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start”- Nido Qubein

UTS Product Ervin wins St. Lucia Rugby Player of the Year Award

A true product of the United Through Sport St. Lucia project. Ervin Joseph’s  association with the organisation came when he got his first taste of competitive rugby in the United Through Sport Youth Rugby Tournament in 2011, representing his hometown of Laborie.

Consequently, a UTS community rugby programme was set up in Laborie the following year. Ervin and his identical twin brother Elvin’s attendance, aptitude and attitude within the sessions lead them to immediate success in the sport, highlights included: winning 2012’s edition of the UTS Youth Tournament with the Laborie team, representing the South of St. Lucia in our North vs South series that same year, captaining the St. Lucia U19’s in Trinidad 2013 and gaining their first senior caps the following year.

Ervin’s development off the pitch was also staggering, as aspiring coaches he and his brother took up positions with United Through Sport. As a graduate of the UTS projects Ervin is the perfect role model to deliver our programmes to the next generation, while collecting a variety of coaching badges; he has ran numerous rugby programmes across the island, travelled with a St. Lucian youth team to the UK as a coach for an international rugby tournament and even established his own senior rugby team.

The 2016/17 season has been his best yet; starring for St. Lucia National Rugby Team in matches against Rugby Club Diamant Martinique and SVG Rugby Union while leading his previous domestic club VBCC Stingers and  current club Rouges RFC to a perfect record of 28 games- 28 wins, leaving voters with no choice as to who should be named the St. Lucia Rugby Football Union’s player of the year.

On receipt of the award Ervin’s focus inspiring others to follow is lead:

“I’m extremely proud to have won this award, this year I’ve been working harder then before. I’ve been surrounded by people that have encouraged me in getting better. It just shows me that with hard work miracles do happened. I say thanks to my team mates and as their captain, i hope leading by example will encourage them on being better as individuals. Right now rugby is a growing sport you never know how far one can reach.” 

Young St Lucian swings his way to the top

Ealier this year, young up and coming tennis star Ishmel Moise, from ‘Tennis St Lucia’, received a new tennis racket as part of “United Through Sport” summer donations drive. With it, he has secured a number of titles including Boys 12 and under Champion in the 5th Annual Easter Junior Tennis Tournament and the Semi Finals in the previous KIA National Independence Tennis Tournament.

Following these initial tournament successes, he trained continuously to be selected for the St. Lucia Team who travelled to Antigua for the annual Caribbean Junior Invitational 12 & under tournament. Ishmel played hard in the round robin competition but unfortunately did not make it to the main draw of the event. He performed exceptionally in the consolation draw and made his team & country very proud.

United Through Sport & The St. Lucia Tennis Association encourages young juniors like Ishmel, to specialize in the sport. The aim of the summer donations drive is to help children develop humility, flexibility, acceptance, fairness, and integrity through involvement in sport. United Through Sport in country coordinator Joel Martin said “giving the children a chance to learn the rules of the game and develop a love of the sport can help cultivate a child’s character and integrity. We look forward to many more impressive victories from Ishmel and others on the programme”.

How we changed an American’s life

Domineque Scott came to South Africa to work with United Through Sport in an effort to change the lives of disadvantaged children there — what she found changed her life.

In a recent visit to her old University, East Stroudsburg University, USA, Scott explained how her experiences in South Africa had influenced her new direction in life. United Through Sport was there to hear what she had to say.

Scott, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2008 and a master’s degree in 2009, both in sport management, from East Sroudsburg University, USA, had been coaching field hockey at a private college when she decided she needed to look for new horizons.“I wanted to go abroad, I wanted to make an impact and I wanted to give back to those who need it,” she said.

Scott, a four-year field hockey player at ESU, signed on to spend 12 weeks in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, starting in January 2014. “I went over for three months and I actually ended up staying for two years,” Scott said. At the end of her three-month volunteer stint, she was offered a job as mass participation program manager in South Africa. United Through Sport volunteers coach children in soccer (football), tennis, field hockey, rugby, cricket and netball. Scott coached the kids in field hockey and tennis and tutored them in English and Math.

The organization in South Africa works with thousands of children each year and it changes schools every six months in order to reach more kids. “We are coaching sports with them and also practicing life skills,” Scott said. That included lessons about HIV prevention and the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as soft skills, such as leadership, communication, teamwork and decision-making. She was moved by the gratitude of the students, as well as the kinship she found in each village and town. It was the first time Scott had been abroad and the experience was eye opening.

“Africa is a magical place,” Scott said. “They have such a sense of community over there, such love, they’re family people. Everybody knows each other”. She worked with children who came from extreme poverty who really wanted to be in school. “The kids appreciate what you’re doing so much,” she said. The schools typically don’t offer physical education so the programs provided time for the children to run around and play sports.

She recalled one student, Lindiwe, who played netball and eventually lived with United Through Sport volunteers because her home life at her sister’s place wasn’t conducive to studying. “The volunteers were helping her out with her academics in the evening,” Scott said. Lindiwe did so well she went on to a university, where she is in her second year with plans to become a lawyer. That’s especially impressive since she comes from a community where only 3 percent of the population goes to college. “It was life changing for her to be a part of the program,” Scott said.

The 29-year-old Scott came back to the U.S. a few weeks ago and is currently living in Milton, Delware and working to start an American branch of United Through Sport. She is fundraising and recruiting volunteers for coaching children abroad and hoping to organize an internship program for college students to coach in local disadvantaged communities. “I want to open United Through Sport USA to give other people opportunities to have these experiences,” she said. Volunteers in South Africa were based in Port Elizabeth, a city by the Indian Ocean, and worked with children Monday through Friday. On weekends, the volunteers could take excursions such as safaris, bungee jumping and diving in shark cages. Scott made close friends among the volunteers who came from countries that included Great Britain, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and Germany.

Scott visited ESU with her mentor, Paula Parker, Ed.D., associate professor and chair of the ESU sport management department, with whom Scott has kept in touch and looked to for guidance on career choices. Dr. Parker says Scott has become a great ambassador for United Through Sport.

“Domineque’s engaging personality and passion for education through sport make her an ideal advocate for United Through Sport,” Parker said. “She shares her volunteer experiences in South Africa in such a way that everyone she comes into contact with will want to explore opportunities to volunteer.”

If you would like to take part in an international volunteer sports coaching placement abroad, great for internships, meaningful holidays or a gap year and career break, then check out our travel website by clicking here.

Volunteer Teacher Jen talks to the Coaches in South Africa

Jeanette Morelan is a United Through Sport volunteer who has been teaching on our project in South Africa. She also keeps a blog, “The Blessed Life”, in which she has recently written about a day in the life of a UTS coach. Here’s what happened.

J: Why did you decide to volunteer with United Through Sport?

I decided to volunteer at UTS because I fully believe in their goals and wanted them to help reach them at 100%. By placing children in the townships in the center of the attention, United Through Sport is taking care of the future of South Africa. —Julian S.

I’ve always wanted to do sport-related volunteering, and United Through Sport really stood out to me. After seeing a video and some photos of the kids that UTS was working with, it sounded incredible and described everything I wanted to do as a volunteer. —Jess T.

J: Describe a typical day of coaching.

Coaches go to 3 schools a day and do 14 schools in a week. When we arrive the children are already waiting to grab the equipment and take it to the different sports areas. Every school is different, so even though we plan our sessions beforehand we have to be able to adapt to circumstances such as playing conditions and ability and their capacity to speak English. Every coaching session is really different! Traveling from different schools can be tiring, but we always give 110% as the kids want to learn and enjoy the sessions. As coaches we discuss afterwards what can be improved and our experiences so we can be more prepared for the next week. It’s a busy day, but we really enjoy it and love getting to have different experiences and meeting different kids. —Jess T.

Shower, eat, coach, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, repeat. —Robbie M.

I wake up around 8:30am to have a shower. At 8:45 I’ll have a simple breakfast, just a simple toast with cheddar cheese. After the breakfast we usually have about a hour left to relax/chill and I use this time to contact my family and friends in Holland. During a coaching day, we coach 3 primary schools. Normally it depends on the school which results you’ll reach. At some schools you are able to really improve the skills of the kids, sometimes it’s just a victory keeping them all in one place! After finishing the coaching sessions we go back to the UTS accommodation where we can fill in the rest of the day after dinner at 5:30pm. We have a lot of fun visiting different places in Port Elizabeth or playing pool or table tennis back at the house. At the end of the day I feel really happy that I can sleep and repeat this for five times in the week. —Julian S.

J: What’s your favorite part about being a coach?

I love the excitement on the kids faces as the UTS bus pulls into each of the schools. They all love the coaching sessions, and are so excited to see you each week. I’ve been surprised at how quickly I’ve become so attached to all the kids we coach, and was genuinely gutted to have to say goodbye at the end of 10 weeks. The amount some of them have improved week on week is unbelievable which is so great to see. —Jo B.

The enormous satisfaction that the kids show by smiling, hugging you as a coach before, during and after a coaching session just because you took the time to be with them. Also when kids make really big improvements. When you can spot some great results it makes it one of the best jobs in the world! —Julian S.

Sports Coaching South Africa

What are some of the challenges associated with coaching?

Coaching different numbers of kids on sometimes bad pitches (fields) with little equipment. —Lukas S.

I would say that the most difficult, and challenging, part of being a coach was keeping the kids under control and listening to my instructions. Whilst it was very frustrating, I found that this provided a good learning experience for myself as an individual. —Felix M.

The biggest challenge is to realize that some kids are already too much influenced by their environment to realize how important education and sports are. Sport creates on its own a great opportunity for people to develop themselves and to create a better future. Sometimes this is hard to communicate for kids that have never been taught the value of sports or education. It’s hard sometimes to try and convince them to leave their current ideas and way of living. —Julian S.

How do you think that United Through Sport is making an impact?

We can see the positive difference that it makes first hand on both kids’ ability to play sports and also their confidence and attitudes toward each other. When we recommend children to the Junior School of Excellence, we know that it could effect the course of their entire lives and we can see that they take the opportunity very seriously. —Imi P.

United Through Sport makes a difference by brightening the days of hundreds of kids each week by bringing them together for some time of sports and fun. When they’re with us, they can leave all of their problems and issues that they might have at home and spend some time receiving mentoring and coaching that they would have never had before as well as enjoying time with their friends. —Chris B.

What are some things that you have learned as a coach with United Through Sport?

To not judge a person before you know their story. Sometimes you get really surprised about what these kids have to deal with. I expect that if we as people from first world countries had to deal with their circumstances we would probably behave the same. —Julian S.

I have learned more things about myself whilst here in South Africa than I have about the place and its inhabitants. I know now more about my personal limits and strengths, and that people will listen to me if I just use the right words. This experience has been the most valuable of my life so far and I will always treasure it. —Felix M.

 

Park Pereyra Hockey Project a Success

March marked the beginning of the United Through Sport Girls Community Hockey Project in Park Pereyra, Buenos Aires. Since the project began, the number of participants has increased almost by the session.

After the first couple of weeks, we were a little nervous about the low numbers of girls participating, but we needn’t have worried. Those girls who began attending at the outset told the others in the neighbourhood how much fun they were having and how worthwhile the sessions were. Before long, numbers started to increase.

Having been running this project for over two months, we are happy to report that this project now reaches over thirty girls aged between seven and fourteen . A huge thank you must go out to all the volunteers who made this possible and we hope to have many more who want to participle in this project that continues to grow every week.

 

Spar Women’s Challenge 5k “Most Beautiful Race in the World”

37 of our Junior School of Excellence Girls ran the Spar Women’s 5k this year in Port Elizabeth. This is the second year in a row in which our Junior School of Excellence Girls have run in this event and was a small treat for our girls who have been performing so well both on the sports field and in the classroom.

An added bonus was seeing our South Africa Teaching Coordinator Romain getting his best frock on to join the ladies, as all men who wish to participate must do so in drag. Well done Romain!

One beneficiary of the day was the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities in Nelson Mandela Bay who were presented with a cheque for R250,000.

Chaz Cepal Selected for Windward Islands U15s

One of the stars of our After School and Young Leaders projects Chaz Capel  has been rewarded for his hard work and recent good form for St. Lucia U15s with a call up to the Windward Islands U15s team, and had this to say:

“I think much thanks should be given to my Mom and Dad, my coach Alton Crafton, and the UTS coaches who ran the after school program at my school. I want to also thank the almighty for his help, protection, and guidance. I will continue to do my best with the help of God.”

Good luck Chaz from all the coaches, staff and volunteers at United Through Sport!

High hopes for Ghana Tennis player at ITF Africa Junior Championship

Following his recent success at the ITF West and Central Africa Junior Qualifiers tournament in January in Togo, United Through Sport Ghana’s youngest tennis player, Reggie Okai travelled to Tunisia this weekend to play in the ITF Africa Junior Championship tournament.

Reggie was the only member of the Ghana National team who travelled to Togo to qualify for the Africa Junior Championships. This is a huge achievement for United Through Sport Ghana and of course for Reggie himself – although he has been playing tennis for a few years now, he is a complete novice to tournaments of this level and calibre. The tournament will see Reggie coming up against rival players from all areas of Africa and it is a great opportunity for him to showcase his talents to the international tennis community.

The whole team in Ghana along with his Academy fellow students are supporting him every step of the way and wish him all the luck in the world. We are all looking forward to welcoming him back and congratulating him on his successes at the tournament.

We’ll be updating the website and our Facebook page with all the latest news on Reggie’s tournament quest, so keep checking back for the latest information.

Success for Senior Team at Benin Tournament

Earlier in February, our senior team and their coaches travelled to Benin for the J2A U’17 tournament in Cotonou. The team and their coaches travelled by bus to from Ghana, through Togo and finally into Benin. It was an extremely long journey of over nine hours each way due to border crossing delays but after the long journey and a good night’s rest the boys were ready for their first day of matches.

The boys won both of their group stage matches on the first day which put them in a good standing for the final group stage match the following day – the United Through Sport team won the match with ease which sent them straight into the semi-final later that day. The semi-final posed more of a challenge for our boys as they were unable to reach more than 1-1 at full time; after extra time and no change to the score they began a penalty shoot-out. The match finished on 5-4 to United Through Sport after the penalty shoot-out, securing a place in Sunday’s final at Benin’s national stadium.

The boys were extremely focused in preparation for the final and relished the sense of occasion that playing at the National stadium brought with it. The game started off well and the United Through Sport team had some fantastic opportunities but unfortunately it just wasn’t their day. The opposition team, Kozaf, took the lead at the end of the first half; our boys gave it everything but luck just wasn’t on their side on the day – they ended the match defeated 1-0 but the Burkina Faso side. Although the boys didn’t win, they had some incredible support and comments from spectators, fellow teams and coaches. They did everybody proud with their performance and effort throughout the tournament and left Benin with their heads still held high.

On arrival back at the academy house, they were treated to a hero’s welcome from the rest of the academy boys – with singing, dancing, chants, hugs, handshakes and prayers of thanks. Spirits were extremely high and everyone was incredibly proud of them and their achievements.