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.