It was a once in a lifetime experience being a part of the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) in Doha, Qatar. I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to travel overseas and represent WhizzKids United and South Africa. It was late last year when I sent my application to the United Nations Office for the camp and I was so excited to get the news that I was accepted. Prior to this trip, I had never travelled outside of South Africa. In Doha, I received a warm welcome from the Aspire crew, Mr. Wilfried Lemke (Special Advisor to the Secretary of United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace) and all the facilitators and fellow participants.
It was an honour to spend the week with Mr. Lemke, the facilitators from Right to Play and other participants from different sub-Saharan African countries and the Palestinian Territory.
During the week we focused on the 8 Millennium Development Goals and learned great information on how to use sport as a tool to achieve the goals. All of the participants got a chance to present our respected organisations’ practices and how we deliver our message using sport as a tool. I gained a lot from the other presenters, especially about including people in our programmes who are blind and disabled. I also gained some tips on how to write a proposal and how to solve conflict in our communities. Most of all, I enjoyed the sharing of ideas with the participants who came from different backgrounds in sub-Saharan Africa.
Some of the highlights from the week included running football drills with the Liverpool FC players, exploring Qatar, seeing camels, riding in sand drifting cars, going to the beach, and spending time in the incredible Aspire Zone venue. Through these fun activities, I enjoyed the opportunity to experience elements of a different culture (something I never dreamt I’d do!).
As we know, WhizzKids United uses sport to deliver our message and works to achieve two of the eight MDG's. I look forward to applying what I learned at the camp with the youth here in KwaZulu-Natal. One immediate lesson I want to put into practice is engaging the youths’ parents more often and further promote WKU and the Health Academy’s services.
Thanks to UNOSDP, Aspire, and everyone who made the camp a truly incredible experience!
I had such a great experience in running the Mixed Gender League (MGL) for the first time. At first, I was very nervous because I wasn't familiar with the coaching. But, after the first week, my coaching skills truly improved.
The MGL kids behaved well and each day they learned life skills and improved their behaviour on and off the pitch. Most of the kids came to WhizzKids feeling shy and scared. But, after a few days, the kids became familiar and opened up to each other. For example, a 16-year old, HIV-positive girl was shy and quiet during the first week. Yet, as time went by, she got used to the other MGL players, played extremely well and made so many friends.
The most important thing that we did with the participating youth was to work with the players before each game to teach them about life skills and health education. I used the WhizzKids United "On the Ball" Life Skills, three session manual which helped me to tie in the sport of football with youth development. For example, I was able to tackle issues such setting life goals and HIV & AIDS prevention through football drills of shooting, defense and ball control.
We had 8 teams compete in our MGL and three winning teams rose to the top. Each of the three teams were rewarded with medals for their outstanding play. In addition, we also presented a trophy to two of our budding players, one male and one female, for being the leading scorers of our league. The action from the league really made children from the community excited and eager to join the MGL in the future! The MGL kids really enjoyed their experience of learning through the sport of football. And so did I!