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Coach Bongani

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Coach Bongani (far right) with some of his team at Sithokozile High School in KwaDabeka

By Rolan Gulston

Originally from Harrismith, 25-year-old Bongani Tshabalala has made a home in the community of KwaDabeka, a township situated just east of Pinetown. Since joining CAST as a volunteer soccer coach last year, he now feels fully invested in the development of the youth in the community.

Growing up with an older brother and two younger siblings, Bongani sought to become independent from an early age. While he spent much of his time at the gym training for the game that he loves, he did not see playing soccer as being a long-term career. Instead, he focussed on education, and encourages his boys to do the same.

Bongani has been studying mechanics since October last year. He shares that, as a youngster, he was not always diligent in his studies and often influenced his friends to take up drinking, smoking and dating to fit in with his social circle. Even attending church was something he did only to please his mother. This changed when he turned 21, as he began to appreciate his faith and attend church regularly without being pushed. As he got older and strengthened his relationship with God, he realised that the only person he can compete with is himself. He now attends KwaDabeka Baptist Church, and plays an active role in the Youth Ministry.

He first heard about CAST through a friend last year after living with his brother in Joburg for a year and half. The community centre in KwaDabeka was looking for a soccer coach, and he immediately jumped on board, but what he found was a deep lack of motivation in the team.

Gradually, through implementing the uBabalo Whole-life Coaching Programme, the boys have developed a close bond, and have learnt the value of supporting each other, “Because when you are playing soccer, you’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing as a team.”

Under his coaching, the boys won their first 10 games, and are now placed in the Pinetown League. Bongani believes in pushing the boys beyond their perceived level of capability by organising for his teams to play matches against older age groups as a way of helping them to adapt and gain experience. “God is here and anything is possible,” he tells them.

The team is steadily growing in number as the word spreads. The Under-15 and Under-17 boys train together three days a week. As part of the uBabalo programme, the team spends time reflecting on scripture before each training session, and many of the boys have shown great spiritual growth.

“God is always there. He is always watching you. I know it’s not going to be easy, but if you work hard, it won’t go away. If it’s easy, it won’t last.”

Bongani tries to always be an encouraging voice for the team, “I have never disgraced them. I tell them they should believe in themselves and trust each other. When I’m sharing myself, I am healing too.” His supportive, yet disciplined approach to coaching and mentoring has endeared him to the boys, who often tell him, “You are part of the family, you are always open.”

This year was his first time attending the annual boys2Men Camp. As a leader at the camp and in his community, Bongani took this time to mentor the young boys in the group of 60 that were selected to attend the camp. It also gave the boys a chance to talk about the things affecting them. He helped them to recognize bad influences in their lives, whether it be the people in their social circles or even the music they listen to. After sharing his testimony, he also taught them about making wise choices, not giving in to peer pressure, and rather than trying to change their friends immediately, start by telling them about the camp and share Bible verses with them.

Bongani found that previously, when selecting a captain, the boys would often choose the loudest player in the team but, lacking in respect for others. He soon drew out the quieter boys who showed leadership potential, and once placed in captaincy, began to change the mind-set of the team; leading by example in their dedication to the sport and their school work. Others have since also improved in their school results, and with Bongani’s guidance, have been applying for bursaries for tertiary education. He has also made time to help them form a study group for Maths and Science.

Between studying, training at the gym and playing matches, soccer keeps the boys busy. “They are no longer bored.” Bongani, too, feels that he has changed. For the past year, he has abstained from drinking and smoking.

“You should accept the way you are, and change the way you do things. Just having fun and buying lots of clothes won’t take you anywhere. Only education. God will provide everything later on.”

Bongani has a passion for youth development, especially empowering the young boys entering adolescence. Bongani’s dream is to empower them to become self-sufficient, productive members of their community. He, himself, has tried to set an example of this by seeing to his own groceries and rent of R550 a month. May was a particularly difficult month for Bongani, without money to afford food and basic necessities, but he still committed himself to training at the gym with the boys. He now receives a monthly food parcel from CAST’s Relief Services, which has been a great help. He hopes to one day have the means to support the boys in buying their soccer boots and kit. “I know I’ll accomplish that, but I know the path won’t be easy.”

Bongani would like to continue coaching, as he feels he is gaining a lot of experience, especially when working with the younger boys. “It’s something different, I am adapting.” To support Bongani in his mission to empower the youth, contact George at CAST on: 031 266 8830 or george@cast.org.za

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Rural Happenings

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CAST’s Appelsbosch Community Empowerment Centre

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Pastor Dube and Coach Ostrich

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Appelsbosch

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Appelsbosch Baptist Church

A few weeks ago, we heard from Ostrich, CAST’s Sport & Youth Development Intern in Appelsbosch.  Since that last update, the outside painting of Appelsbosch Baptist Church has been finished, and the connecting CAST Community Centre Office has been completed as well.  Appelsbosch community members now have a formal place to go to access CAST services.

In regards to Youth Development in this community, Ostrich organised 38 children from Noodsberg Primary School for a development rugby team.  For the older guys, Ostrich has put together a district team for 23 players from Appelsbosch, Noodsberg, and Chibini.  They recently played in a local tournament and won.

During the school holidays, the Vikings Rugby Academy from Norwegian Settlers Church will be doing a coaching clinic for the rugby teams in Appelsbosch.

In our other rural communities, Noodsberg Baptist Church and Chibini Baptist Church will be hosting a Fun Run/Walk this weekend.  There will be a 5K Walk and Run, as well as 10K and 20K Runs.  Medals will be awarded for winners.

Make sure to check out our Facebook page to see photos from these exciting upcoming events at: http://facebook.com/CAST_ngo

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Meet the Coaches: Sibu & Jackie

In honour of the upcoming Youth Day holiday next week, CAST would like to introduce two of our new coaches working with youth in the community:

Sibu

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“Our aim is to change lives.”

Sibu’s heart for the boys in his community is evident.  Growing up without a mom, Sibu is able to identify with many of the boys in Noodsberg who don’t have a parent actively present in their lives.

Originally from Tongaat, Sibu ended up in Noodsberg fifteen years ago after he became very sick.  A gogo took him in and after Sibu recovered, the gogo saw Sibu’s potential for farming and encouraged him to pursue growing mealies.

When CAST brought Paradigm Shift to Noodsberg, Sibu was quick to join.  It was at business forum that Sibu learned all about networking, which motivated him to ask Bongani, CAST’s Noodsberg Area Coordinator, about volunteering with the boys soccer team.

Sibu knocked on Bongani’s office door at the CAST Community Centre and said, “Give me your boys!”

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Sibu (back row, on the right with soccer ball) and his team

True to his word, Sibu began training with the boys every weekday.  He coaches a large group of boys, ranging from 13-23 years old.  They train on a very small, informal pitch on the side of a field.  The boys barely have enough room to run, but they have come to really enjoy being part of a team and having a consistent coach.

Despite all the challenges, Sibu says of coaching, “I like to be among people and tell them how life is.”

Sibu also has a desire to give back to his boys by teaching them how to farm.  He wants them to not only be part of a team, but also develop a life skill they can use in the future.

Jackie

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A year ago, CAST started our very first sports team for girls.  This initial tennis team in KwaDabeka has led to another girls basketball team in that community, as well as a girls netball team in Chibini.

One of the challenges CAST’s Youth Development Department has faced is finding female coaches for these teams.  After posting a notice in the Westville Baptist Church bulletin for a tennis coach, CAST finally heard from a community member who was interested.

Jackie first approached CAST after hearing about the coaching opportunity from one of her friends who attends Westville Baptist Church.  Interested in development work, Jackie was happy to utilize her experience in tennis.  Under the direction of a new coach, the girls have grown in their tennis skills.

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CAST relies on volunteers like Sibu and Jackie, who are passionate about reaching out to youth in the community.  Without these volunteers, who consistently give of their time each week, CAST would be unable to run our youth programmes and offer sports opportunities to the youth.  All of our programmes at CAST are “grassroot” by nature, being run by ordinary people, for ordinary people, but in ways that bring extraordinary results.

CAST is still looking for a girls basketball coach in KwaDabeka.  If you are interested in coaching, please contact George Mwaura at george@cast.org.za or 0795967364.

In addition, this coming Tuesday, 16 June, CAST will be hosting a Youth Day Celebration at KwaDabeka Baptist Church from 10am-2pm.  Please feel free to join us as we celebrate the youth of KwaDabeka!

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Coach Ostrich

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CAST’s Youth Development Team (left to right): Shaun (KwaDabeka Intern), Ostrich (Appelsbosch Intern), and George (Youth Development Manager)

Originally from Appelsbosch, Mazisi (also known as ‘Ostrich’) is no stranger to the challenges that face his community, especially for the youth.  Appelsbosch is located in the Ilembe district, neighbouring the other partner CAST communities of Noodsberg and Chibini.  High rates of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and lack of activities and work opportunities keep the youth in this community from realising their potential.

As Ostrich explains, “Most youth from this area are not doing anything.  Guys finished with Matric are not going to college.  Their mindset is to go straight from Matric to work – that is all they know.”

After attending school in Pietermaritzburg, Ostrich decided to move back to his home community to make a difference.  Ostrich is a talented rugby athlete with extensive coaching experience.  This year Ostrich joined the CAST Team, and he oversees CAST’s sports teams in the local communities of Appelsbosch, Chibini, and Noodsberg.

Ostrich works from Appelsbosch Baptist Church.  An impressive 90 percent of the congregation is made up of young people, ranging from 15-25 years old.  Many of the church attendees are from the local college in Appelsbosch, a campus of Coastal KZN TVET College.  When George, CAST’s Youth Development Manager, provided two buckets of paint for Appelsbosch Baptist, Ostrich was able to organise these young people to paint the church walls.  P1020232

Ostrich still faces many challenges in launching a formal Youth Development Programme in Appelsbosch.  There are no fields in the area for sport, and Ostrich has struggled to get involved with youth in the schools.  However, he remains optimistic and realizes there is a need to meet with community members to build trust – specifically parents of the youth.

Please be in prayer for this exciting new opportunity to reach the youth of Appelsbosch!

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More Than a Ball and a Hoop.

KwaDabeka Sports Day.

Getting the youth more involved in the church was a vision for KwaDabeka Baptist this year and it seems the vision is becoming a reality.

To commemorate June 16th, Youth Day, CAST coordinator, Lungelo, organised for a Sports Event to be held at the church – an opportunity for the youth to socialise and enjoy their community beyond the weekly Friday night meetings. The KwaDabeka sports teams were joined by teams from Isaiah House Church in Molweni making a total of about 150 youth. The program ran from 9am until 4:30pm, with the youth participating in basketball, netball and soccer tournaments throughout the day. During the intervals of the sports programs, the crowds were entertained by ice-breaker activities and humorous commentating.

At lunch time, the coordinators took the opportunity of the gathering to give a short talk to the youth on “Awareness “– a topic which included points on drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and underage sex- and then do a salvation call at the end of the talk.

25 young people committed their lives to Jesus.

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Addington Sports Week.

The school holidays can be a scary time for the children of the Inner City because many come from neglectful households and dangerous areas. Without the safety net of going to school every day, many of these kids are left to roam around the streets of Durban Central. The risk of them getting involved in inappropriate activities is also very high during this period.

CAST, held a Sports Clinic for the children to attend from the 8th -11th July at Addington Primary School. The aim of this week was to provide the kids firstly with a safe space to come every day, and secondly, for them to be in an environment where they are free to just be children. A volunteer team from Lake Pointe Church in Texas along with volunteers from Westville Baptist took part in coaching basketball, netball and soccer everyday for the kids.

“The day was very eye-opening and fulfilling, and it was awesome to see joy in its rawest form.There definitely is a benefit to the community from outreaches like this because the children have an alternative outlet during the holidays”IMG_7789 IMG_7808   

Sports Ministry is about more than just kicking a ball around or shooting hoops. It’s an opportunity to form lasting relationships with kids and youth from the Durban communities and to have an impact on their lives that goes beyond a friendly game of soccer. Let us know if you are keen to be a part of this!

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The Clan Takes On Southern Africa.

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Armed with their brand new sneakers and an attitude of confidence, the KwaDabeka basketball team (aka The Clan) prepared to compete in the DHS Easter Tournament, against 25 schools from across Southern Africa.

A few weeks prior to this tournament, the boys had been awarded with silver medals for coming second in a tournament at Marion Hills. This achievement had earned them a place in the Ethekwini Basketball league, which will start in August of this year.

They still maintain that their success is due to the generosity of a team of volunteers from a church in America, who donated new sneakers to the team earlier on in the year. You can check out some photo’s from that experience here.

Peaking on the confidence from this tournament, they got ready for their four-day long stint at Durban Boys High School. The point of the tournament, which happens annually, is to grow the game of basketball among schools and communities in Southern Africa. There were a range of different places represented in the tournament, ranging from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg.

Day One, saw the boys playing a fierce game against The Glenn, a team from Johburg, and claiming a victory. Day Two wasn’t as fortunate as the boys found themselves losing to DHS and to Peterhouse College, a team from Zimbabwe. But they didn’t let this get them down.

Day Three was a big win for them against Mount Currie High, from the Eastern Cape, which meant that Day Four was a playoff game which would decide where they would be ranked amongst the top ten.

Out of 25 schools in Southern Africa, our CAST basketball team from KwaDabeka community, was awarded eighth place – a huge success, and one that has put a smile on their faces for the rest of the month.

What followed were interviews from Supersport about the journey of the team as well as an immense confidence boost for all the boys.

One of the boys is also now a candidate for a basketball and rugby scholarship at DHS, which the team at CAST is very proud of.  This was a great achievement for first timers in the tournament and has given them the motivation they need to compete in upcoming tournaments this year.

If you are interested and keen to get involved in the coaching of basketball or soccer, or are willing to help our team out in any way, please get in touch with us!