The current Mixed Gender League (MGL) at the Health Academy features two new young football stars. In fact, they are the youngest MGL footballers so far. In our picture to the right, you will be able to see 8-year-old twins, Ntokozo and Slindile. You can probably pick them out of their team line-up, standing half as tall as their teammates with football kits a few sizes too big. Regardless, they both have enough heart and hustle on the football pitch to make up for their lack of size and experience- - Ntokozo is even one of the leagues’ leading scorers!
Ntokozo and Slindile have attended the WKU Health Academy for health services and recreational activities for the past 6 months. Ever since their first visit they have wanted to play football in the MGL. Since the MGL footballers complete a sexual health course in conjunction with the football games, the staff select participants who are at least 12-years old. Fortunately for Ntokozo and Slindile, the Health Academy chose to run an MGL for the youth who will stay in the Edendale area for the school break and have allowed them to compete.
Every game day Ntokozo and Slindile arrive at the Health Academy with huge smiles, football socks pulled up over their knees, ready to start playing. Last week, the Health Academy staff had the chance to chat with their number one fans, their parents, who came to cheer on their son and daughter.
Ntokozo and Slindile’s mother told us how thrilled they were about the opportunity to play in the MGL:
My son and daughter are so excited to be playing on the Swallows team this season. The first day of the MGL, my son received his football kit. He was so anxious to show it off. After leaving the Health Academy that day he went straight to his grandmother’s house to show her the kit and tell her about his MGL team. After visiting his grandmother, he came home. It was a raining evening so my husband and I were sleeping. Ntokozo came runnning into our room to wake us, wanting to show us his football kit and tell us all about his first game and how he scored 2 goals. He wanted to know when we were going to come give him support and my husband and I promised we would come to a game. We as parents are very happy about him.
Just another feel good story that is testimony to the impact the WKU Health Academy has on the youth and families of Edendale!
The 9th of December was an exciting day for the youth of Edendale as it marked the final day of the school term and the start of summer break. The WKU Health Academy was filled with even more excitement for the youth, as our WKU staff, Edendale community members, and WhizzKids gathered together to commemorate World AIDS Day and reward the healthy behaviour of the WKU Health Academy youth with a Christmas Party.
It remains debatable amongst the youth as to what was the best part of the event. One main highlight of the event was a visit from Martizburg United Football Club. The youth spent an hour performing football drills under the direction of Martizburg United coaches and players. Read more on their visit in our previous blog.
The event also featured three special guest speakers. A young gentleman living with HIV, presented a powerful message on building a healthy relationship with an emphasis on partners getting tested together. Sipho Hadebe from the School of Agriculture, urged the youth to be independent and avoid being lured into making bad decisions based on the three c’s: cash, cars, and cell phones. The final speaker, Nditsheni Mudau from FET College, informed the youth on alternative education options and motivated them to continue their studies regardless of obstacles.
Amid the excitement from the event’s guests, the attendees also enjoyed a delicious, hot meal. The Health Academy staff worked tirelessly in the kitchen starting at 6AM, cooking large pots of chicken and mutton curry and numerous salads for the 400 attendees of the events, including youth, parents, business representatives, and school teachers. We owe a huge thanks to Green Farms Academy and FIFA for their generous sponsorship of the event’s catering needs.
And of course, it wouldn’t have been a Christmas party without gifts! Christmas gifts and certificates were presented to the WKU youth who received HIV Counselling and Testing and utilised the Health Academy sexual health services for the past year. Doctors from Edendale Hospital graciously donated 350 gift bags for the WhizzKids and Martizburg United Football Club gave complementary game tickets.
Despite the overcast weather, it was a beautiful day of celebration amongst the youth and Edendale community, honouring the healthy lives the WhizzKids lead. It was incredibly transparent from the smiles on the faces of the youth and community members that it was a great day. WKU graciously thanks all who contributed to making it a successful event!
Now, it’s time for all in attendance to go forth with the holiday spirit and empower others to lead healthy lives!
After months of exciting and competitive league play, our Mixed Gender League (MGL) wrapped up on October 27th at the Health Academy, with Chelsea beating Liverpool by a score of 2-0.
In the end, it was more than just crowning an MGL Team Champion. It was about the respect, sportsmanship, and confidence that grew between the girls and boys competing on the same football teams and pitch. Following the final game, the Mixed Gender League Coordinators spoke with a few of the MGL players.
Zanele, a girl from Chelsea, said she was nervous about playing with the boys and the first couple games her male teammates never passed to her. Her male teammate, Ngcebo, said he thought football was just for boys and he didn’t think they would win many games with girls being on his same team.
Now, 14-weeks later, Ngcebo admits he learned that girls can play football too. He went on to explain that it was actually fun to play with the girls because he learned to pass the football and work together with his teammates. Zanele happily reports, “now we play as a team and we respect each other and play together.”
Following the final game, it was apparent from the smiles on the girls’ faces that they were proud of their achievements on the football pitch with the boys. The MGL had heightened their self-esteem and confidence. The same can be said for the boys. Bheki said: “When I first came to WhizzKids I was depressed but after playing football every week I am happy and feel good.” The Health Academy staff has heard similar stories from the boys and girls playing in the MGL.
Mission accomplished for WKU and the Health Academy staff. Now, it is our hope that these lessons of gender equality and growth in self-esteem that transpired on the football pitch will be carried into the daily lives of the MGL footballers.