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.

New Hockey Project in Pereyra Park, Argentina

 

Following an incredibly generous donation of hockey equipment to United Through Sport Argentina, our Director, Alejandro, had a wonderful idea. He thought about hockey in Buenos Aires and realized that there simply were not enough opportunities in the area surrounding Pereyra Park. So, Alejandro said “ Why don’t we run our own Hockey School at the park for free and open it up to all the kids living in the neighborhood and the shantytown next to it?

I’m very excited to tell you that from March, every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, United Through Sport hockey volunteers will be coaching hockey. Everyone is invited to join in with this exciting new opportunity that pretty much sums up what United Through Sport is all about. So remember, if you’re planning to volunteer coaching hockey abroad, it is definitely worth checking out what United Through Sport in Argentina has to offer. We could use your help and we know you’ll have a blast!

School of Excellence Class of 2010 Graduates to University

2015 is a land mark year for United Through Sport… our first group of children have graduated from high school and are starting their tertiary studies this year. We are proud to report a 100% pass rate from our five children who were doing matric last year, the first group of children to receive scholarships to our Senior School of Excellence Programme in multi-racial schools.

For Lindiwe, it really has been a life changing experience going through our programmes. Lindiwe will never forget her first year at Pearson High School as it was a huge change in the schooling system from her previous school in the township. She still looks back at her first academic progress report which had her in tears with disappointment. One of her highlights in the last five years was the international trip to Brazil in 2014. Lindiwe has now been accepted at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and will be commencing with her Bachelor of Arts studies in February.

Sibulele has been fortunate enough to travel internationally twice with United Through Sport in the last six years. His first trip in 2009 was actually the gateway to his entry at Pearson High School on the scholarship programme in 2010. With his very unique and inquiring mind, he has always been very interested in how the organization works and has always made himself available for any extra help needed. Also accepted at NMMU, S’bu will be doing Human Settlement Development Studies.

Back in 2009, Brad was also in the group of boys who travelled to the UK on a rugby tour with us. For Brad, being on scholarship in our SSE meant more than just a school change, but relocation from the small town he was living in, to live with his father in Port Elizabeth. The move developed his relationship with his father, and he is glad we made the opportunity available. Brad is planning to stay in Port Elizabeth one more year, taking a gap year before furthering his studies at the University of Free State in 2016.

Sithembiso’s entire high school life was dominated by his rugby. His achievements include playing for the school first team and his highlights in the six years he has been in our programme include his trip to the UK. With big dreams for his future, S’the has been accepted at the Algoa Flight Centre to become a pilot. He will start off with a Private Pilot License and Night Rating, before continuing on to do his Commercial License.

Last but not least, we have Athi, also a strong rugby talent. Athi would love to pursue a profession in the sport; and is well on his way already! With his love and passion for rugby, he has maintained his talent in and out of school. He has been playing Provincial rugby throughout high school, and is actually on bursary at the NMMU this year due to making the Eastern Province Rugby Academy. Athi will be starting his LLB Law degree and playing for the EP U/19 team this year. Together with the four above mentioned young men, his involvement with United Through Sport started in 2009 where they went on the rugby tour to the UK.

Needless to say, we are extremely excited to have all five starting the new chapters in their lives. It is a remarkable achievement given the expectation that only 3% of township children will make it to tertiary education. We are also very happy to have been helpful in affording them such opportunities, and are only expecting great things from them in the future. We wish Lindiwe, Sibulele, Brad, Sithembiso and Athi the best of luck in their studies and we will keep our supporters posted on their progress!

“The United Through Sport scholarship has changed my life! I wouldn’t have made it to University without their support, I can’t wait to start the next chapter in my life, but also want to help United Through Sport give more children from the township the opportunity to change their lives forever!” Lindiwe Cezula, SSE Graduate 2014.

Tennis success in Togo

Earlier this month, United Through Sport Ghana’s youngest Tennis player, Reggie Okai was selected to join the Ghana National Tennis Team to travel to Togo for the ITF West And Central Africa Junior Championship Qualifiers. The tournament took place from the 11th to 17th January 2015 in Lome, Togo – Reggie was part of a 10 player team that was called up to the Ghana National Team. He joined fellow Ghanaian players to compete alongside rival tennis players from across west and central Africa.

As a novice to this level of tournament, Reggie didn’t let the sense of occasion phase him. He played some incredible matches, defeating some extremely talented opponents from all over west and central Africa.

As the tournament got into full swing, Reggie flew through his rounds and surprised many of his fellow team mates as well as coaching staff. Reggie and the rest of the team all played exceptionally well, most of his colleagues had played in Junior tournaments previously however this was Reggie’s first junior tournament. As the matches began Reggie delivered consistent winning performances in both the singles and doubles tournaments. He completed the tournament in fifth place overall which was a fantastic achievement alone but his place in the final standings meant that Reggie was also the only member of Ghana national team to qualify to play in the forthcoming ITF/CAT African Junior Championships which is being held in Tunisia in March 2015.

Everyone in Ghana is extremely proud of Reggie and his fantastic achievement, we wish him all the luck in the world in the Junior Championship Tournament and will be supporting him every step of the way.

Volunteer to stay on as Intern in Buenos Aires

United Through Sport, Argentina grew a lot in 2014. We received three times the volunteers we did during 2013. All as a result of the hard work of the organization, ensuring that every volunteer that chose Argentina for their volunteer programme was not disappointed. Our volunteers posted all over social media and told their friends and family about the great time they had on our projects.

Dhani-Perre Heath is a football volunteer from London who arrived in December on a 12 week programme and is now staying until November 2015. Yes, an amazing 30 weeks more than he had originally planned!

Dhani tells us that he is having a great time in Buenos Aires. He has met some amazing people and is learning from every coaching session he takes part in at Pereyra Park. He is also organising football games in a local league by hiring a pitch.

United Through Sport Staff in Argentina have named him as the new intern because he moves like a local in the city, his Spanish is improving, he knows how every project is working and he will now be staying until November.

So, we want to welcome Dhani to the United Through Sport working team in Argentina and hope he continues to work hard and have the time of his life in South America.

 

Christmas Surprise at United Through Sport Argentina

In November, Kevin Hagiel from Germany travelled to Buenos Aires to support United Through Sport Argentina. He is a player and coach at FC St. Pauli Rabauken in Hamburg. He came to Buenos Aires for a 6 week Football Volunteer programme and did a great job. His Spanish was good enough to gain the kids attention and affections.

By Christmas Eve, Kevin had finished his programme, but he couldn’t leave before giving some special presents to the kids he had been coaching for the past 6 weeks. At the end of his final session, when all of the kids thought it was time to finish, Kevin revealed the special gifts that he and FC St. Pauli Rabauken had arranged for them. Sport shirts, shorts and socks were given to the kids. Christmas came early for the kids from Pereyra park and for Kevin too, who couldn’t believe how happy and grateful the kids were.

We want to thank Kevin Hagiel and FC St. Pauli Rabauken for this amazing gesture. Beside Messi, Aguero and Tevez is a new name – and that name is Kevin.

 

Ghana Football Boys take on rival Ghana Academy

The Ghana Academy boys recently enjoyed a weekend trip to Sogakope in Ghana’s Volta Region to play the West African Football Academy, which up until recently was known as Feyenoord Football Academy – an incredibly good and well known Academy in Ghana. For this meeting our U13 and U17 squad’s represented United Through Sport in Ghana and did incredibly well.

The U’13s started brightly with some excellent pressure on the Feyenoord defence. As the game continued, more pressure from striker Wisdom Afrani led to a mistake at the back and he capitalised by rounding the keeper before slotting the ball away for a 1-0 lead. The boys were playing really well and with the pace from Sadiq Bawa threatening down wings led to the second goal, a great run by the winger with a calm finish in the bottom corner!

The second half started slowly in the 40 degree heat, a good move from Feyenoord ended in a good finish to half the lead United Through Sport had at half time. A few injuries forced a couple of substitutes which saw some of the younger development squad (U’11/U’12) boys make their first appearances for United Through Sport. With around ten minutes left a fantastic goal was scored by the United Through Sport side clinching a third goal. The ball was won in the centre of the pitch and a great move sweeping out to the right wing and quick low cross was put away by the goal scoring midfielder Charles McCarthy!

A great win for the boys against very tough opponents.

The U’17s started well holding on to the ball and playing some nice football. Unfortunately their good play didn’t lead to us taking the lead. Feyenoord hit us on the break and a nice finish put them 1-0 up. Not long after the opening goal we equalised with a very powerful finish from Ibrahim Sulley from a tight angle.

The second half was a close battle with neither team really taking the initiative, the midfield was being controlled by Joseph Amoah – who recently just returned from a training tour in the UK with St Mirren and Portsmouth – the game was ticking by and unfortunately Feyenoord hit us on the break and scored a second goal, after an initial good save from Amadu Ibrahim.

A close game, but in the end we fell just short, despite controlling the game!

Brazil Success for South Africa

“Wow….what a two weeks it has been. I don’t even know where to start! We have just returned from what feels like a dream” – Athapelele Ngwendu, United Through Sport South Africa Scholar.

These were the words of one of our 8 children returning from Brazil having participated in the Street Football World Cup alongside the FIFA event. The trip was to take part in a Football competition but what the group got from it was a whole lot more.

From visiting local Favelas and interacting with the local community to learning Capoeira (a Brazilian form of dance fighting), playing in front of crowds of 100’s in the bustling city centre of Sao Paulo (the largest city in South America) to learning Spanish and making life-long friends with their Argentinean house mates. This trip was filled with such a richness of experiences and learning opportunities that it will take many more weeks to fully digest what they have done and achieved.

On the field the team did extremely well considering their age and background. We cruised through the group stages of the competition with big wins over USA and Costa Rica and a nail biting victory over the Philippines, only to set-up an extremely tough encounter with Ghana in the round of 16. The team were unlucky to lose to a much older, stronger more physical Ghanaian team. From here we moved into a ‘Fair-play’ group which we topped by beating Philippines and Panama and drawing with Sierra Leone, who boasted a full time professional player. Proudly we also finished the competition as one of the few teams to finish with maximum fair-play points for Respect, Cooperation and Solidarity.

Off the field the kids made us even more proud. We proved to be one of the most popular and well supported teams in the competition, especially amongst the locals. This was in no doubt due to the open nature in which our kids engaged with the many other teams and cultures they came across.

A true testament to the impact they had on the other teams was at the fair-well, when we left our house mates from Argentina, Philippines and Panama where endless tears flowed as the new friends were separated for the first time.

It was a truly wonderful trip for the United Through Sport kids that participated which created experiences and memories that will last for a life time. Most important is the lasting impact that the trip has had on their interpersonal skills, their cultural awareness and their aspirations for the future.

“I learned about so many different countries and cultures, I learned Spanish, Portuguese, German and Filipino. We took part in so many discussions and debates and we saw and experienced so many new things. I really feel like our brains were bombarded with new information to learn. It’s left me with a desire to travel more, see more and learn more…I will never forget this experience” – Lindiwe Cezula – United Through Sport South Africa Scholar.

Check out a video of Lindiwe’s trip to the Brazilian World Cup 2014.