Charlotte Looker, of our Asset Services department, shares her experience and insights from her recent trip to South Africa to work with The Port St Johns Community Fund:
‘In May, I took a trip to South Africa to visit a friend who lives there and spends a few months each year working on his own sports project in the coastal town of Port St Johns. The ‘The Port St Johns Community Fund’ charity is based in the Township of Mthumbane, a significantly deprived area with a 75% unemployment rate, as well as a high rate of HIV.
Up until this year, the sole focus of the charity has been to create a football pitch on a barren patch of land just outside Mthumbane and to provide players with the necessary equipment to train and play in the local league. So far, the project has been very successful- with the team now training twice a day and regular coaching sessions offered for the children. The pitch is never empty!
Whilst many have benefited from the charity’s work in recent years, the women and girls living in the Township have been slightly left out. As a result, it was decided that this year, part of the football field would be given entirely to the women and girls so that a netball court could be constructed. Within a week the area was weeded, chalk lines were drawn and hoops were welded into shape! Now all that was missing was some kit…
After hearing about the netball project prior to my trip, I was eager to help and so reached out to Helen Long at Capital International Group to see if the Group would be interested in sponsoring the netball bibs so that the girls could start training properly and get a team together for their local league. After very kindly agreeing to support the project, I managed to squeeze 14 bibs into my rucksack and so embarked on the epic 2-day journey to the remote area of South Africa.
After handing the bibs out, we visited the pitch area almost every day to find a court full of women, girls and sometimes even boys all training together. Whilst I am unsure as to how well the rules of the game were being followed, they were certainly enthusiastic and enjoying the game, which is the main thing! Since returning to the island a few weeks ago, I have heard that the girls have now acquired a dedicated coach with whom they train 3 times a week and that the team is planning to enter the local league, which starts in just a few months’ time.
I would like to thank the Group for supporting me with this project. Women and girls in the area often find themselves with nothing but chores and childcare to occupy their time. The netball project is therefore invaluable, providing them with a positive, social and active way to spend their time as well as helping to build their confidence in an area where they are so often overlooked.’
We would like to say a huge thanks to Charlotte for getting actively involved with, and blogging to raising awareness for, this very worthy cause!