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Read on to get more information on Hamza Sheikh's Sports Coaching South Africa experience...
How were the schools you coached at?
We always looked forward to going to the schools each day. It was an incredible experience for us going to the township schools and to really see what the reality was like for African children. As expected the conditions such as the classrooms, the grounds, even the quality of the teachers, were poor. What was most memorable however was the children themselves who were always full of excitement and joy when they saw us arrive. From the second we stepped off the minibus they would always run towards and jump on us. They would play with our clothes, pull our hair and dance and sing with us. It was the same for all schools and we always loved coaching the children. You could really see them getting involved and really wanting to learn not only how to play sport but also about general life-skills such as leadership and good health. The benefits and rewards were immediate in the sense that you could instantly see how much of a difference it was to them with us being there.
What did you get up to on the weekends?
Here’s a list! Going to the beach and pier, the local markets, Aldo Elephant Park, a snake park, bungee jumping, shark diving, hiring a car and going travelling, cinema and mall, clubs, bars and restaurants, going to a live rugby, cricket and netball match and much more!
What were the main challenges?
The heat! For most of the days it was pretty hot which meant coaching out in the sun. Therefore one piece of advice, which I know is simple but is really important, is to drink LOTS of water! The coaching itself was a real challenge at first – a lot of the children’s English was very basic which meant that we had to find other ways of communicating to them such as using hand and feet gestures. Of course getting their attention and making them concentrate was always a challenge but I think this only added to the experience. One particular challenge, which I will never forget, was when I had to help teach a class of 40 children (besides coaching sport we also had the choice of teaching classes at least once a week e.g. teaching English or Maths). It was hard work to simply get the classroom tidy and to get the children sitting at their seats and listening.
What did you enjoy the most?
Working closely with the children and helping them to learn life-skills and play sports; learning the Afrikaans language from the children; getting to know all the other volunteers and making life-long friends, and soaking in all the African traditions and culture, not to mention tasting the amazing African food! We also celebrated Halloween on one night and went to a traditional bush camp for an authentic African meal which was incredible!
What were your main achievements out of the experience?
I think the biggest achievement was simply coming out of the 5 weeks of being at the schools and knowing that I, along with all the other volunteers, had put in all the effort and hard work to really make some form of a positive impact to the lives of the children we bonded with. I had also significantly improved on my leadership abilities after spending so many weeks in such a role with the children. This had also increased my overall confidence and self esteem. Another great achievement was being able to make so many new friends with all the other volunteers who were from around the world. This now gives me another reason to go traveling again – so that I can go and visit them!
Read Part 1 of this blog if you want more information...
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