Meet Lindiwe – Our Netball Scholar

Supported through our School of Excellence Programme in South Africa, Lindiwe comes from a typically tough background having grown up in the township of Kwazakhele in Port Elizabeth without ever knowing her father. Her mother has never worked formally and spent most of Lindiwe’s life away in her original home town of Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape. As a result Lindiwe has been mostly brought up by her older sister, along with her two other siblings and nephew. Her older sister runs a ‘Shebeen’ (township drinking bar) in the informal settlement of Gqebera and Lindiwe sleeps in the store room with her cousin, surrounded by beer crates.

Despite her tough circumstances, or perhaps as a result of them, Lindiwe stood out in the United Through Sport Programme as a talented Netball player with an attitude of true grit and determination to succeed. As a result, United Through Sport secured a scholarship for her part way through grade 9 to Pearson High School in 2011. In her first term, the gulf in education looked like it would be too much – she failed every subject scoring only 11% in maths and 13% in English. Yet, Lindiwe had been given this opportunity for a reason and her determination came to the fore. She worked for 5 hours every night to complete her homework and do extra catch up classes , every Friday she would take an English book from the library and read it over the weekend and return it on Monday. Gradually her results improved due to her hardwork and perseverance. Lindiwe is now in grade 12 at Pearson, she is an active member of the debating society and represents the school in Netball. Her ambition is to become a Lawyer and she has applied to four of the top Universities in South Africa. She is on track to be amongst our first group of children to go to University each of whom will be the first in their families to do so.

Lindiwe is not a stand out child of our programme, but rather a typical example of the children we work with who come from such difficult circumstances yet have so much potential to completely change their own lives and the lives of their families for good.

If you would like to support others like Lindiwe then click on the Sponsor a Child link below.

Scholarship Awards Ceremony in Ghana

Thursday 26th September 2013 was a very special day for United Through Sport Ghana as the first ever Scholarship Awards Ceremony was held in Teshie, Accra and the very first intake of talented young football and tennis players received their Scholarships to the School of Excellence.

For the last 6 months the Ghana Team have travelled the length and breadth of the country in search of the country’s most talented young Tennis and Football players. Over 1000 boys were originally selected and this has now been whittled down to just 26 lucky boys who were awarded a scholarship for the United Through Sport School of Excellence. The scholarship will provide these boys with a good quality basic education and training in their chosen sport of either Tennis or Football. For those boys who do not live in close proximity to the United Through Sport Ghana office in Teshie, they will also receive food, accommodation and support during term times.

The ceremony was attended by the boys receiving their scholarships, their parents and family members, volunteers, coaches, staff and other boys who are still going through the selection process and hope to receive a scholarship of their own in the future. The ceremony began with a warm welcome and speech from James Dzandza, Director of United Through Sport Ghana, and an opportunity for parents to ask questions about their sons futures with United Through Sport. The presentation of scholarship certificates to the lucky final 26 boys followed, each certificate was presented by a representative of United Through Sport Ghana and the boys were accompanied by their parents for individual photos as they were presented.

After all of the formalities it was time to celebrate the boys achievement and this huge milestone for United Through Sport Ghana… big smiles were seen all around, not only from the boys but from their parents, family, volunteers and of course the United Through Sport team.

Impromptu entertainment was laid on by an older brother of one of the boys receiving their scholarship who showed off his impressive football skills to parents.

The afternoon was a huge success on all accounts and we wish the lucky scholarship recipients the very best of luck in their studies and training with United Through Sport.

Ghana School of Excellence Recruitment Day

May 2013 saw the first part of the United Through Sport Ghana recruitment programme for over 1000 aspiring young football players who were all vying for their chance to receive a prestigious scholarship at the United Through Sport School of Excellence.
After weeks of scouring the country for Ghana’s budding young stars, the Ghana team and volunteers spent the day at a football ground in Teshie, as the young hopefuls were put through their paces. The day took the form of a football gala as the boys showcased their talent, technique and discipline to the team who would be deciding whether they would be going through to the next stage. Lots of people came along to support the players and cheer them on as they played their hearts out for a chance to move forward in the recruitment process.

To add to the occasion, the boys and the team were joined by former Ghana Black Stars Coach, Charles Akornor, who gave valuable input and feedback on the young players, as well as assisting with the final decision as to who would be selected to go through to the next stage of the process and move one step closer to receiving a scholarship for the United Through Sport School of Excellence.

After a long day, 22 exhausted young players were selected to go through to the next stage of the recruitment process which will include rigorous training schedules and aptitude tests over the course of the coming months.

A fantastic day was had by all, lots of celebrations from those who had made the grade and even those who were not lucky enough to get through to the next stage of the recruitment programme thoroughly enjoyed themselves and went home with a real sense of achievement.

Ghana School of Excellence Almost Complete

We are delighted to report our School of Excellence now have the materials on site to complete the final three classrooms. The building project has come a long way in a short space of time thanks to the efforts of all of our volunteers and friends of United Through Sport.

The rapid development at the School owes a massive debt of gratitude to two of our summer volunteers, Hannah Nisbet and Tom Edwards. Through their fundraising efforts back in Australia we were able to purchase $700AUS worth of building supplies necessary to complete the structure.

Educating the boys after school and before their football training commences, form an integral part of our goals here at United Through Sport Ghana. We seek to promote and develop the values associated with sporting excellence through better educational attainment and participation. We aim to teach our three registered teams every afternoon and when possible, in the mornings too.

Our School of Excellence is located next to our pitch at Presby Park. Given the regular attendance of our players’ siblings, it is fantastic that we will have better, cleaner and larger learning environments. Importantly, the teachers and students will have some shelter when the rainy season dares to attempt to disrupt our lads’ learning experience.

2012 has been a remarkable year for our team. With the School of Excellence bringing a new dimension to our work and the boys finally being registered to play league games and catching the attention of local academies, we look forward to welcoming new and returning volunteers with United Through Sport to build on the great achievements of this calendar year.

Next up is the arduous task of painting and decorating our shiny new classrooms… maybe our boys can help with this!

School of Excellence South Africa Camp

Our School of Excellence has our kids busy every day in the afternoons; from life skills to sport, mentoring to extra tuition as well as the weekend matches they regularly play. With the school load and the after school programs they take part in, it would be very easy to just give up but most of our kids show commitment to the project day in and day out!

As the year is nearing the end, it was time to reward those dedicated scholars for all their commitment and efforts to keep the project going forward. An overnight stay at the Cape St Francis Resort organised by Fezulaka Experiential Outdoor Adventure was the reward for the 38 children who had attended 80% or more of the after school sessions. During the year, they had attended a number of life skills sessions and some of these came in handy on the camp; it was great to hear them speak about rip currents from the water-safety and ocean awareness session they attended in July and recycling their cups and paper plates from the environmental session in April. This would also serve as the perfect opportunity for the kids to have their final socialising and relaxation time before the exams and heavy study period. Going with the kids to the camp were our Soccer coach Zolani, our Netball coach Nokuthula and our Project Manager, Spakes.

On arrival at the campsite, the kids were briefly given the rules and regulations of their stay and headed off on a long beach walk. On the walk they were given some general knowledge on the functionality of the lighthouse, they went to see some penguins and ended on the rocky side of the beach where they were exploring and learning about all sorts of sea creatures living under the rocks. By this time the children were very ready for lunch as they had used up a lot of energy on the beach!

After lunch, four groups were formed and each one had to give a presentation with their group name and war cry where a winner was awarded bragging rights! Each group had a pair of drums to use as they wished and were given no boundaries for creativity. Without any doubts, the group that combined variations from traditional to hip-hop moves took the title. The kids had to stay in their groups for the remainder of the camp and shortly after the war-cry’s it was time for their problem solving and team building activities. Their communication skills and logic were put to the test in the different activity stations set up. Once they had finished with these, the kids enjoyed some free time where they played sport around the campsite, composed music to the beat of the drums and just had some time to lay back and relax. They also used this time to read over the stories each group was given. Before supper, they would have to do short plays telling African myths in each story.

In the dark, the kids performed their short stories and once again, the winners were the same group from the earlier competition. The plays were very entertaining as the kids had put in a lot of effort to try and out do each other! After supper, it was time for a short night walk on the beach and through the bushes, where the Fezulaka guys pulled a disappearing act on the kids which got them screaming in fear! With a lot of activity in the day and the early morning ahead, bed-time gave no trouble at all.

In the morning, the kids had to be up early for jogging on the beach and drills on the beach. They really felt like they were in boot camp with them tied up in rope, running around carrying huge rocks and all the exercise drills they had to do! The fact that they could come back after breakfast to try out surfing and sand boarding kept them going! This was also the time they used to strategise getting Spakes soaked in the water as she was the only dry person in the group. First step would be sending the girls to trick her into handing over the camera, phone and sunglasses so the boys could come do the rest!

Indeed, after breakfast they had the time to showcase their non-existing surfing skills, or just enjoy the beach or the swimming pool. The rugby boys also used this time to catch what they could of the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final. Packing up and preparing for lunch, the camp had come to an end. It was a beautiful day and the blazing sun had the kids exhausted from the two days’ activities. The kids enjoyed the time spent at the camp and the coaches felt like 16 year olds again!

“As this is my last year with United Through Sport, the camp was a cool way to end my 4 year old relationship with the organisation. I loved that we were only a stone’s throw away from the beach and I think I discovered my potential to be a great surfer!” Ntsikayomzi Hlekani, Grade 12 United Through Sport South Africa Beneficiary.

Stationary donation for School of Excellence Kids

Rio-tinto continued their all round support of the School of Excellence kids by providing 180 brand new stationary packs for all of the sponsored children at the School of Excellence. Each pack contained pencils, pens, a ruler, eraser, calculator and scissors. Lubabalo Mpongoshe, Project Manager of the School of Excellence program said, “These packs are the perfect gift to start off the new year for the scholars. Every year it is a financial struggle to make sure our kids have the right equipment to perform academically, this year Rio-tinto’s donation has really given them a push start”.