The next four days of the trip signal a return to the main purpose of the project. The development of leadership and inspiring students and staff through sport and education.
There was a real buzz around the breakfast table this morning as we knew we were returning to Mnyakanya to carry on with our work. All of the students from St Mary’s have planned a full lesson to deliver to students from the school. The honour of delivering the first lesson of this years project was on offer and in time honoured tradition no one wanted to do it first! Thankfully, Mrs Chattoe just nominated a group to go first!
With that we were in the van, packed up with with food and a small part of the football shirt collection. Our first stop of the day was a short visit to the primary school which will be part of the sports festival. I say short visit… We arrived at 9:30am and left at about 11:45.
I must say that the visit was a real treat and we got a first hand look at what primary education in South Africa. We had a fantastic welcome from a group of grade five children. One of which was a real character. Kuhle, who’s name translated into English means perfect was a star. He had plenty of chat and banter with us all asking for selfies etc.
After we left the welcome party, we had a tour of the school. This included a visit to each class in the school. What an experience, we got to see everything! Some of the activities included a performance of a traditional Zulu dance led by a group of 8 years olds, playing head, shoulders, knees and toes with 5 year olds, a Q and A with the oldest members of the school and finally learning some Zulu with 7 year olds. This proved to be quite memorable!
To finish our visit we were treated to a special celebration assembly. It is something that I will never forget. The assembly included a short speech from the principal and then led to three Zulu dances (one from the girls, one from the boys and a mixed group). Finally, we had a small theatre performance about life in a South African school. The noise from the Zulu singing and dancing bounced throughout the hall. I cannot wait to show everyone on the video of it all. Spine tingling stuff.
We said our goodbyes after a mountain of pictures! Good job I have got the 128gb version of my phone! Knew it would come in useful for something.
We arrived at Mnyakanya at around 12pm and met up with four students from Eshowe High School who would be supporting the St Mary’s students delivering the leadership programme.
Once in the school, work got underway which began with the beginning of the giving of the football shirts we have collected as part of the Universities Football Shirt Amnesty. We presented all 27 of the Mnyakanya leaders with their very own Doncaster Rovers shirt. It was great to give out the kit and to ensure that it is going a great group of young people. It could be the beginning of a South African Doncaster Rovers fan club! The students will wear these shirts throughout their leadership training. Thank you to Ben and Doncaster Rovers for the fantastic kit.
As part of the programme the students from St Mary’s prepare a curriculum lesson to teach to the learners from Mnyakanya. Today provided the first opportunity for students to get stuck in and try their hand at teaching and boy did they do a great job! We had Hannah and Becca teaching about the heart and how it works and we had Joe, Lucy and Will teaching all things Maths. It is hard enough standing up in front of a new group and teaching, add into the mix your first time teaching and with a group of learners whose first language is not English. It is not an easy assignment but they did a cracking job. The South African students loved it and really enjoyed being taught by our guys. The bar is set high for the rest of the group!
After lunch, we headed out onto the sports field to continue our leadership training. The students looked great in their new kit and they were really inspired to get stuck in and try their hand at leading a group. To begin with the St Mary’s students went through a full session with the Mnyakanya leaders. However, this time it was more about teaching them how to teach the session.
Leadership and in particular sports leadership is the same in whatever country you are in.
I have delivered many sports leadership courses over the years and two things tend to happen. We tend to have those who rise to the challenge early on and then we have a few slow burners who need a little encouragement and support. Mnyakanya is no different. There a few leaders who have taken on the challenge superbly! It was really inspiring to watch and give them the praise they so rightly deserve. Tomorrow they will be leading to an entire group of thirty, a new challenge but one I am sure they will rise to and succeed in.
As the time progresses and all of the students get to know each other you can really see relationships and friendships form. Sport can do that. The end of the day brought lots of handshakes, hugs and pictures. A real bond is starting to form and it is special to see it. As time goes on it is really starting to hit home what I am a part of. Life is all about taking opportunities as they present themselves and I am determined not to miss out on anything. I can see that from all the staff and students both from the UK and South Africa.
Just like on Friday, we had a couple of spare places on the bus, so we drove a couple of Mnyakanya students home. We dropped the students off 20 minutes drive away from school. Now think about that, 20 minutes. How long does it take those students to walk to school? How many don’t go to school because of the distances they have to travel. We are in the middle of winter in South Africa, it’s dark at 5pm. There are no street lights, no retail parks etc. When it’s dark, it’s pitch black. There is something that can and needs to be done to help this situation. I think this is where the University and its students can help. More details to follow but I am very excited about the possibilities.
Back at the ranch and the electric was on, as was the water. Finally, we were fully charged, wified and more importantly a clean group! After another lovely dinner, we sat down to one of my world famous quizzes! I love a quiz! The rounds were Yorkshire, Science and Nature, Sport and General Knowledge.
The eventual winners were the teachers! As you can imagine, the St Mary’s lot were really happy with this…
I was planning to have a big stack of quotes in this blog from the students as their messages are so powerful and really get to the heart of how this programme can help to develop personal skills. I also know that a lot of their parents and family are reading the blog which I think is pretty amazing! Hello to you all, I hope you are enjoying it, you should be very proud. They are doing a great job!
However, I am aware that this is a pretty long blog already! I am going make the next blog a bit of a student special. They will all have input so be sure to check it out.
Can’t believe it’s Monday already, time is going so fast but I am savouring every minute.