Nelson Mandela once said that “Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

This statement is very relevant following our week of Sporting Chance Development Foundation Coaching Clinics in Gugulethu and as it’s the week of Mandela Day so pertinent. Last week Sporting Chance teamed up with Synergy Income Fund who owns the Gugulethu Square centre to host a week long holiday sport coaching programme in Gugulethu.

The programme was two phase with a holiday coaching clinic for the first three days and then a mini world cup tournament to finish off the week. Focusing on the sport codes of soccer and netball the programme aimed to include 200 children from within the Gugulethu community.

The programme proved popular from day one, and was oversubscribed with over 250 children wanting to be a part of the action each day. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday played host to the coaching clinic at the City of Cape Town’s sport and recreation facility located prominently in Gugulethu. The weather was fantastic and the facility ample, laying a perfect platform for an energy filled three days.

The coaching clinic included a vibe and warm up session to get going early morning, followed by fitness and agility shuttles, then onto sport specific drills and exercises, before finishing off with a match simulation to recap at the end of the day.

Amongst the sport coaching, there was a strong emphasis on life skills and specifically sport etiquette, nutrition and the importance of being physically active. The life skill sessions were facilitated by the team from African Impact and we are extremely grateful to these international champions who made the sessions relevant, insightful and fun. The outdoor classroom proved popular and it was awesome to have the passionate volunteers educating the children throughout the programme.

On Thursday and Friday, the good weather continued while the focus shifted to the car park of Gugulethu Square shopping centre for the mini world cup. The ‘street style’ soccer pitches and netball court where drawn, the eagerness of the children to play, and the volume of spectator traffic all contributed to a phenomenal atmosphere.

The children were divided into 20 FIFA World Cup 2014 countries and the passion showed by the players and coaches on and off the pitch was inspiring. The matches were played in a good spirit echoing the sports etiquette life skills lessons that have been discussed during the week.

Throughout the week Gugulethu Spar ensured the participants were fuelled and refreshed by supplying fruit, cool drinks and lunch for all each day. Media partner SuperSport Let’s Play also joined us to film the action, which had our next “Messi and Neymar’s” super excited to be caught on camera.    

Sport provides the perfect diversion during the lengthy school holidays when negative influences are most rife, and this past week has shown the synergy of sport and that there is a massive need for extended programmes such as this. It was a wonderfully successful week and thoroughly enjoyed by all involved and it was tremendous to see the interest, passion and talent expressed by the Gugulethu community.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Synergy Income Fund and the Gugulethu Sqaure management for sharing our passion and making the programme possible. We would also like to thank Gugulethu Spar, SuperSport Let’s Play and the African Impact team for their support in assisting us to give the children of Gugulethu a tremendous ‘sporting chance’ these school holidays. We have enjoyed working with you all and hope this is a start of a growing partnership.