Eight local schools have benefited from the Global Sports Mentorship Programme (GSMP) when an official handover of sports equipment was facilitated by the first certified female soccer referee in South Africa, Akhona Makalima, and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa founding member, Patrick Selepe.
Makalima, who officiates for FIFA, the Premier Soccer League, the Sasol Women’s League, and the South African Football Association (Safa) and who advocates for women in sport said GSMP was a United States-based organisation that helped women and people with disabilities to participate in sport, gave them opportunities and helped women to use sport as a tool to develop the economy. She added that through its two pillars, which focus on gender equality and disability rights, delegates from around the world come together to share action plans and ways to advance both focus areas.
“We are mentored by executive women in the United States, we go back to our countries and start implementing our action plan. We want to give people an opportunity to play sport. We know people have limited resources, so we came to deliver the equipment. We want to come back and teach them how to use the equipment, how to identify the skills and how to nurture, develop and maintain it for the betterment of the country and the people.”
Although she was born in Ngqamakwe, Makalima said Komani held a special place in her heart as she was identified and developed in this community. “Everything I do and have now started is in Komani. I want to collaborate with the schools here and in Ngqamakwe where we all work together with teachers and pupils, share ideas, open opportunities and develop young talent among young girls and boys. I am here to pass on all I have and share all the experiences in this community.”
The Komani Veterans were among the beneficiaries and Makalima praised the group for their charitable work. “They continue to encourage people to play football so this is our way of encouraging them to continue,” she said.
St Theresa’s Primary School, Van Coller, Edlelweni, Mpendulo, Lukhanji, Nonesi, Thembelihle and Louis Rex Primary School were those identified to benefit from the programme.
St Theresa’s Primary principal Msondezi Bulu, who received the equipment for his school, said the donation was a sign of patriotism and proof that people and schools were evolving through people like Makalima and her team.
Department of education extra-curricular sports programmes coordinator Nomawethu Ncilitwa said:
“We are humbled and thankful for the sport equipment for schools. The gratitude is not only for us, but for the pupils who will use this equipment. It is not every day that we are gifted. The development of pupils does not only depend on school knowledge, but also on extramural activities. This equipment will contribute towards that development.”