UTS Beneficiary Shines at Rhodes Competition

“Education is the most powerful weapon with which you change the world”. This is a powerful statement which serves as the motto of Rhodes University Mathematics Experience 2017 winner Chadleigh Ownhouse.

Chadleigh, a grade 11 scholar at Alexander Road High school and beneficiary at United Through Sport took part in the Rhodes University math experience 2017. On Friday 17 February around 275 learners from 17 different schools in the Grahamstown  District, took part in a District Mathematics competition. Amongst these learners was our very own Chadleigh Ownhouse, who is part of the Senior School of Excellence at United Through Sport.

Alexander Road entered six learners into this competition and Chadleigh was selected to be among them. He was entered into the senior division and obtained the 1st place price. Rhodes offered bursaries as a prize to the top 3 candidates in the Gr.11 and 12 division. As well as winning the scholarship Chadleigh also won a cash prize for his performance.

It is always heart-warming and hopeful to see young people who become educated and successful despite their circumstances.

We hope this life changing event could impact on all scholars to show that your circumstances do not determine your future.

“In the community I am from very few people manage to go to University, either because of bad school grades or because of the cost.  This opportunity will completely change my life”

Chadeliegh Ownhouse, Grade 11 United Through Sport Senior School of Excellence Beneficiary

Township Astro-Turf Launched On Mandela Day

For United Through Sport, July 18th was not only a celebration for Mandela Day and receiving sports equipment, but also the celebration and official launch of a 1200m₂ 4G mini astro-turf at Astra Primary School, one of the Junior School of Excellence centers; a first facility of its kind in the townships of Nelson Mandela Bay. The multi-purpose astro-turf was funded by the local e’Zethu Development Trust, Empower and the Sedbergh School in the UK, through the Bhubesi Pride Foundation. Astra Primary serves as a hub in the Northern Areas, meaning that the turf will be available for structured use by the community at large primarily for Hockey and Soccer training.

By donating sports equipment, the contributors were also securing a spot to show off their football skills in friendly games played on the new turf. The first game saw the heads of the Business Chamber and UTS going head to head against the Astra boys in a very entertaining 15 minutes. Needless to say, the young blood took charge in their territory and showed the businessmen who’s boss on the turf!

With all these festivities amalgamated on Mandela Day, it was only fitting that the event was dignified by the presence of Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay and President of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Dr Danny Jordaan. Other dignitaries included the CEOS and Directors of the businesses represented in the Business Chamber, as well as representatives from the South African Football Association (SAFA) and the headmasters of our Senior School of Excellence partner schools. In a warm speech, the honourable Mayor showed appreciation for the work that United Through Sport does to uplift and develop the youth that come from such disadvantaged communities in the Bay, giving these youngsters a much brighter hope for their future.

Mandela Day 2016 was a very special day for United Through Sport, highlighting the importance of concrete partnerships to pursue common goals. It was indeed very powerful to come together with the above mentioned institutions and organisations, holding hands in promoting youth development through sport.

“Facilities like this one and partnerships like these are the key to long term sustainable development. We are proud to support this initiative and look forward to working with United Through Sport and the other key partners in the future”.
Dr Danny Jordaan, Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor.

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.

500 Youth March Against Violence

The children are the future”- this is a statement that just cannot be disputed. It is always so heart-warming and hopeful to see young people standing up for what they believe in, particularly when it comes to fighting for their rights!

The young people of the Nelson Mandela Bay showcased this on the 20th February 2016 as they participated in a “Youth March Against Violence” to voice their concerns about all the violence and crime happening in their communities. Towards the end of 2015, United Through Sport, alongside two other local NGOs, started a vibrant and active youth network to promote, develop and create opportunities for the youth of Nelson Mandela Bay. The Youth 1st Network and its members used this platform to engage with the local municipality about the unsafe communities the youth live in.

This was done in the form of a march where a petition was handed over to a representative of the Mayor.

On that Saturday morning, over 500 youth marched in the streets of the CBD, hoping their voices will be heard. The petition signed requested more visible policing, less tolerance of illegal behaviour, the erection of fully functional CCTV/cameras to cover the streets and public spaces (which will minimise the need for human witnesses), more protection for eye witnesses of crime, a serious crackdown on gang leaders, more community cooperation in bringing criminals to justice and a concentrated effort to reduce illegal gun possession, ownership and smuggling.

Leading up to the event, the Junior School of Excellence beneficiaries at United Through Sport spent their life skills and mentoring sessions discussing violence; the causes, results, impact on society as well as prevention options. The children are affected by crime on a daily basis in their communities, and sadly so, even in their own homes. The key solution that the beneficiaries came up with to minimizing this issue was education. The children see education and employment as key factors to putting a stop to crime in their communities.

Being involved in the march and signing the petition made them feel empowered that they can be the change they want to see in their communities. “Holding my poster up, walking with the group gave me the spirit that through my actions I can make a positive change in the world” – Anifa, 12 yrs old, United Through Sport Beneficiary

Our Kids Get 100% Pass Rate

The year 2016 sparks off an immediate celebratory atmosphere amongst the United Through Sport family in South Africa, as we commemorate another successive 100% matriculation pass rate from all of our Senior School of Excellence (SSE) graduates. In spite of the national matric pass rate dropping from 76% in 2014 to 71% for the class of 2015, with a further overall bachelor’s pass rate of only 18% for all schools in the Eastern Cape, our kids managed to score 100% in both areas.

Each of our matriculates achieved merit passes with clear, strategic plans for their futures. Furthermore, our post-matriculates are aided by tips and tools accessible via various online platforms, alongside our continued support to help them continue on their pathway to success. Some examples of our scholars and their plans for their immediate future are:

Cody comes from an area renowned for drugs, crime and gangsterism, but he has overcome the odds stacked against him by sheer determination and a dedicated work ethic on both the sports field and in the classroom. His distinctive Grade 12 pass results have furthered his prospects of an aspired academic qualification in Sports Management or Sport Psychology at either the University of Cape Town or University of Johannesburg respectively. Cody is assured of a promising future with the reversal of the odds now stacked suitably in his favour. We are elated at being a part of Cody’s journey.

As in most instances with our SSE scholarship beneficiaries, there are some restraining circumstances around the guarantee of all our children’s academic success. Ayabulela is no exception and struggles through his mom’s absence from his home, simply because of her work commitments in the Transkei. Yet, Aya has transcended these challenges superbly well and now seeks to pursue Tertiary Education. Equally, we are delighted at Aya’s chosen option of Business Management Studies at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

Lorenda is well known to our team for her reserved, soft-hearted nature and passion for helping others, particularly those from disadvantaged environments. Hence, she has chosen a career pathway of nursing, which is apparent to all who know her, as the ideally suited choice for her life’s work. Subsequently though, we have the immediate privilege of having her continue as staff at United Through Sport for her gap year of 2016, thereafter she would begin her formal training in nursing.

Lorenda has gifted us with such heart-filled encounters of caring and sharing. It’s always rewarding when one of our scholars, whom having been given a chance, now chooses to give back by affording others the same opportunity for significant success.

A life transforming relocation to Jeppe Boys High in Johannesburg has proved most fruitful for our fourth 2015 graduate. Zolisa is a prime example of the significant impact we strive to make in the lives of all of our children. He has truly personified our endeavours of uniting through sport. For more of Zolisa’s story, please click here. He will now be progressing on to NMMU to study Marketing.

“We would like to bid all of our post-matriculates well with their projected plans and ambitions. When your heart is in it, anything is possible. Godspeed!” – Russel Aspeling (SSE Manager)

Graduates thank United Through Sport for transforming their lives

This year see’s more of our young people finishing off their top level schooling in South Africa, something that United Through Sport has facilitated for them over the years. One particular man, Zolisa Faba, decided to get in touch this week and tell us a few things about the opportunity he was given:

“This week was my official last week at Jeppe as a school boy, now I am old.

It has been a wonderful five years and if I could, I would do it all over again. I have never really taken a moment to just thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be chosen to attend an amazing school like Jeppe. I understand very well that if it was not for your kind heart, I would not have got the privilege to attend Jeppe.

I thank you for creating a smooth path for me to get out of poverty. When I go home to my grandmother, she always says that she wishes to thank you again because your kindness is incredible. Through you, I got the opportunity to travel to two continents. I often ask God to help me not forget where I came from no matter how good or bad things turn out for me in life. I want to make you really proud one day and also be able to give back to United Through Sport in the way you have given me so much.”

Zolisa’s history and link with United Through Sport
Zolisa Faba; an 18 year old boy who came from our Mass Participation Programme. Zolisa progressed into our Senior School of Excellence Program with a scholarship to Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg in 2011. He is now in his fifth and final year at Jeppe, and what a change we have seen in him!

For any young boy, growing up without a father always has difficult implications, but for Zolisa the situation worsened when his mother fell terminally ill four years ago. His mother had to be moved to a specialist hospital in Cape Town for the demanding care she needed. It felt as if his, and his brother’s world was falling apart and he had no option but to leave home.

Living with their Great Aunt, and seven other people in a small house, things were not quite the same for these two boys. The whole household was dependent upon the pension of their great Aunt (R880 per month / £45) as it is the sole source of income for the household.

Zolisa felt he and his brother were a burden to his Aunt, not surprising when her pension equated to less than R5 (25p) per person per day.

As a result there were many periods when Zolisa was only eating a meal once every three days.

When the opportunity came along to send one of our talented sports men to one of the top schools in the country, it was not difficult for us to choose Zolisa – not because of his circumstances but in spite of them. He was one of our most dedicated learners, his enthusiasm and determination within our program stood out. He was dedicated and committed, regardless of the family situation back home, and clearly wanted more from his life.

Zolisa now eats regular meals, has grown hugely both physically and mentally and after almost years at his new school, stands out as a fine, well mannered young man. Most importantly he is receiving a top level education which will allow him to progress onto almost any career path he chooses and ultimately completely change his own future and that of his family. Zolisa has been accepted at the University of Johannesburg to study Law, next year.

Zolisa is a great example of the opportunities we strive to create for our children. We are so proud of how far Zolisa has come and so excited about where he is going!

If you would like to support the work we do to provide more opportunities for young people like Zolisa then check out our page ‘How You Can Help‘.

For more information on our work in South Africa click here.

10 of our kids visit UK Rugby Festival

Over the last week United Through Sport have been involved with bringing 10 of our under 13s children from South Africa to play against another 9 Rugby Teams from around the world. The Festival of Rugby, organised by partner charity Touraid has given our kids an amazing opportunity to travel out of South Africa for the first time and experience a totally different culture to their own.

The tour comprised of two tournament days, hosted at Henley RFC and Esher RFC, buddy days with supporting schools (ours being Ripley Court in Surrey) and cultural days in London, visiting all the great sights.

Our 10 kids stayed with a great bunch of parents and children from Ripley Court who were also competing in the tournament, providing an ideal platform to build international relationships that will hopefully continue long after the tour is over.

The tour coincided nicely with the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England and the children enjoyed a surprise visit from former South Africa Rugby International, Chester Williams and John Inverdale, who has presented coverage of many major sporting events including the Olympic Games, Wimbledon, the Grand National and the FIFA World Cup.

Thanks to all those involved for making this a tour worth remembering given the huge amount of effort put in to make it happen.

Enjoy some of the photos from the tour, mainly taken at the Henley RFC tournament.

Our work reaches 1600 extra people in the community

In partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM), United Through Sport (UTS) implemented a series of community-based projects in the period of June-July 2015 to increase physical activity in the communities of Nelson Mandela Bay. These events were to encourage the residents of the Bay to lead a healthier lifestyle as well as to bring activities to the idle youth during the long school break. Over the winter school holiday, UTS conducted these projects in the form of three Community Walks and two Holiday Programmes in and around the Bay, where a total of 1589 participants took part in the various events.

This physical activity plan formed part of the Designed to Move campaign which highlights the importance of being physically active. As there are a lot of risks, conditions and diseases associated with physical inactivity, such as depression, heart disease and strokes, it was important to raise awareness around this. It is also important to inform the young children that they could pro long and improve the quality of their lives and brain power by taking part in physical activities.

The Community Walks were 2km routes in the townships and catered for everyone in the community; the young and the old. Each walk started off with a brief aerobics warm up session, especially considering how cold it was in the early mornings.  At the end of the walks and after the cooling down exercises, there were challenges and competitions done to showcase ways of doing fun and free physical activities. These included a skipping rope and hoola-hoop challenges and dance competitions. Prizes were awarded to the challenge participants and competition winners, as well as our oldest and youngest walkers.

All the communities warmly appreciated having such events in their township, as they rarely have the chance to participate in these kinds of opportunities in their remote area. The youngest participants were still learning how to walk and the eldest walkers were in their 70s.

The different elements incorporated in the Holiday Programmes were life-skills, role plays, sport, general knowledge quizzes, indigenous games as well as arts & crafts. UTS also included some of their own beneficiaries from the Senior School of Excellence to work as volunteers at the holiday camps. The older and more mature beneficiaries assisted as peer leaders to the participants. At the end of the camps, these youngsters felt really good about being involved in such an initiative, and being able to be of service to other children. It was a good opportunity to develop their leadership skills and to take responsibility for developing younger children from their communities.

The older children participated in life-skills which focused on HIV and AIDS awareness. The different fun and interactive games in these sessions taught the children about the importance of decisions they make and the consequences which follow, the myths and truths on identifying someone who is HIV positive, how to minimize the risks of being infected and how HIV is spread. The younger children spent a lot of time in the arts & crafts sessions, where they did face painting, paper masks, storytelling and such age appropriate activities.

On the sport aspects, the girls and boys took part in netball and soccer where they were coached by the UTS international volunteers. On the last day of the holiday programme, they played against each other, as well as an indigenous games tournament.

The winter holiday programme was a great success in enabling us to take key aspects of our ongoing programmes to communities that wouldn’t otherwise benefit. Being a development through sport organization; it is great to be working in partnership with the municipality to encourage healthier lifestyles in our communities.

“It feels great that I can give back to other children and pay forward what United Through Sport has done for me in my life.” Lorenda , UTS Beneficiary, 17 years old

“We never really think about the dangers of living an inactive life, yet there is so much we can do every day to avoid many diseases; we just need to move a little more every day.” Sonwabo Jacobs, Colchester Community Member, 45 years old.

10 Years of Progress

We are celebrating a decade of work in South Africa. Our first operation began ten years ago in Port Elizabeth. In that time we have established a great network of schools in which to use sport as a tool for development. We have permanently changed lives for the better in the impoverished areas in which we work.

Through our Mass Participation Programme (MPP) we have used sport as way to effectively tackle critical issues such as HIV and Aids, a major threat to kids growing up in townships. The MPP has also shown us which children show the correct attitude and level of promise in order to attend our Junior and Senior Schools of Excellence, where we have had great success. So much so, that our first year of grade 12’s all graduated to University.

With a solid infrastructure and a dedicated team in charge of operations, we aren’t letting up any time soon. Congratulations to all involved.

Watch our video and hear from Nick Mould, one of the United Through Sport founders, explain more.

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.