So its time for the second blog from our Leadership team! – Relive the exciting journey as Ebony Mckeever takes us through the wonderful places and awesome people that team TGP met on the return to our roots!
Our first introduction to South Africa was our visit to the University of the Western Cape. We learned about their Sport for Development and Peace program that is sacred to their university and how students are encouraged to return and serve their communities and other underserved neighborhoods. We then presented TGP to a group of South African sport administrators, students and coaches, with the purpose of communicating who we are and what we planned to learn and accomplish as the Leadership Academy.
Our next visit was to Drankenstein Prison where we were introduced to an offender who told us how the use of sport in the prison helped him realize his wrongs and make a change to strive for more after his release. When we first arrived we witnessed the juvenile offenders hosting a talent show filled with singing and dancing on the yard. This visit opened up our eyes to the lack of uplifting programs and activities in U.S. prisons and juvenile detention centers.
Our visit to the Nobantu Centre of the organization Women for Peace in Mfuleni we played with the children who attend the center everyday after school. This was one of my favorite visits because the students were so excited to interact with us that they didn’t even ask for our names before they dragged us to the playground.
While in South Africa we visited the Kayelitsha and Soweto Grassroots Soccer sites. It was great to learn new shoutouts in Xhosa, meet the GRS coaches and staff, and learn how large their organization has grown and how much we can grow as well. Visiting the GRS Nike site in Soweto brought stars to our eyes when we saw the beautiful field and building. We are excited to possibly implement the new shoutouts and energizers into our curriculum to connect more with our roots.
We added a visit to Amandula and was able to meet up with a fellow TGP coach inspired by the program to continue in the sports for development field. We had a friendly competition on each others countries against the coaches. We then created our own games I teach to the rest of the group.
At all of the sites we learned something we can apply to our program, at Hoops 4 Hope we learned how to have a positive, fun loving spirit when teaching the children games. We realized we share some similar games and learned a new game that teaches other life skills besides HIV/AIDS, if we decide to expand our curriculum. A connection with the community is that although the center does a lot for the youth, the need for stable housing is great and neighbors often steal bricks from the building to secure their own homes.
The last visit was to Kliptown’s Youth Program. The founder showed us around his old neighborhood, Kliptown. He spoke truths about the differences between American and African values, how Africans do not seek pity or money from Americans, and when visiting Africa one should come with an open mind to learn, not to subject everyone to their opinions. The program is the only computer lab in the neighborhood and is open to everyone in the community. The offer homework help and other resources for youth and resume help and opportunities for the adults, so it is respected by most. The opportunity to visit these amazing NGO’s will help us in our strategic planning in what we want the direction of TGP to be.