On his way home from school one day, 14-year-old Samkelo Bryan Cele, learnt something that would change his life. Being tall in stature, a friend invited him to join the CAST Basketball team that trained at KwaDabeka Baptist church. Without any former knowledge of the sport, or the right kit, Bryan went to check it out.
At first, it was tough. The other boys had skills and experience that far outweighed young Bryan playing in a pair of construction boots. Growing up as the eldest son in a family of seven with a single parent, Bryan faced scrutiny for investing so much of his time into basketball, especially since soccer was the more popular sport in his community. With the added sorrow of his grandfather’s passing, he stopped playing for a year.
Despite not being a part of the team, CAST had become a “home away from home” for Bryan – a safe space away from the dangers of peer pressure where he learnt about brotherhood, and what it meant to have a personal relationship with God in daily life as the boys would pray before and after each training session.
He started playing again in grade 9, this time, with a strong determination to improve his skills. As part of CAST’s focus on youth development, our mentoring programme seeks to break the cycle of fatherlessness in the communities by connecting young people with role models. Our goal is not that mentors would solve all their mentees’ problems, but rather that mentors would empower their mentees to solve their own problems. From equipping Bryan with his very first pair of trainers to sponsoring a trip to attend a basketball camp in Serbia, Bryan was blessed to have the mentorship of Mike Cox, a member of Westville Baptist Church, who whole-heartedly invested in Bryan’s future.
As the years went by, Bryan steadily got better and better. His talent drew the attention of selectors at regional tournaments, and he was subsequently offered a scholarship to attend Durban High School. His vision broadened as he began to see the many doors that had opened for him to opportunities that someone from ‘the hood’ would not ordinarily have access to. One such opportunity was being selected to attend the aforementioned basketball training camp in Serbia, as well as in the USA where Bryan was awarded the title of ‘Most Valuable Player’.
Bryan is now in his second year at The University of Oklahoma, USA where he was awarded a scholarship to play basketball and is academically pursuing a degree in Business Law. Once qualified, his dream is to use his entrepreneurial skills to build a support structure for those from a similar background with limited opportunities. “Basketball was my out,” he says.
“I know I’m not the only one who can do it. They need God, hope and motivation.”
Bryan is deeply grateful for the generosity of donors and the support of CAST mentors and coaches, through which, God has worked to transform Bryan’s life. His advice to those who aspire to achieve the same goal is simple: “Believe. Work. And pray.”
If you would like to help make this dream a reality for more youth in our communities, contact George on 031 266 8830 or email email@example.com.