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Robert Wheatley, 26, from Merseyside has spent an incredible summer on Sports Coaching South Africa. He tells us what life is really like...
A typical day?
A standard day as a sports volunteer sees us leaving base camp at around 10am.
We’ll generally travel about 20-30 mins on one of the VW sponsored ‘Soccer Busses’ to our first school. We coach at 3 schools a day for about 90 mins at a time before returning at around 3-4pm where we are left to our own devices!
The main sports that the volunteers are coaching at the moment are football, rugby, netball, hockey and cricket. Some schools are more advanced than others, and some are at the most basic level you can possibly be. I personally preferred working with those at the most basic levels, though it can get very frustrating at times. Explaining even the most basic drills to kids for whom English is likely their second language can be tough. The best way to do it is to show them what you want them to do. Although, of course, getting their attention can be tough too!
But the coaching is amazing when it works. When you go back week after week and you see the difference in the skill-level of the kids, it motivates you to work harder and harder. When you’re finished with a session and the kids are genuinely excited for the next one, wanting to know when you’re coming back and what they’ll be doing next week, laughing and smiling and singing to you, you know it’s worthwhile.
Breakfast is available from the time the first person gets up - corn-flakes, bran-flakes, weetabix, rice crispies or toast. Tea and coffee are always available.
Lunch (usually sandwiches) will normally be laid out about 5 mins before we leave (causing minor panic!). It’s your choice when you want to eat, there’s no set lunch time.
Dinner is prepared fresh and is served between 5 and 6.30 every night. Past dishes have included sausage and mash, cottage pie, chicken chow mein, tuna pasta etc.
Out and about
Once a week, we get transport to the local entertainment area called the Boardwalk, an entertainment centre with mini-golf, bowling, a cinema and various restaurants. We usually leave at 7pm and head home around 11pm. Of course, you’re free to go out afterwards if you want, but you must arrange your own taxi back. Going out is pretty cheap - most drinks are around the R12 mark, and the guys here will normally be able to suggest what places to go out on the various nights. Just be warned, there is only one real rule – you must show up for work the next day in a fit state to coach!
There are often weekend outings for the volunteers such as an adventure weekend with skydiving and bungee jumps, a weekend away at surfer’s paradise Jefferies Bay and a day trip to Addo Elephant Park and Seaview Game Park. For the 12 week programme, you have more free weekends, but this provides you with more opportunities to travel. It’s a big country, so take your time to do it right.
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