First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to send my gratitude to Peace Players International (PPI) for giving me such a tremendous opportunity to take part in the Youth Empowerment through Sport (YES) program and meet such wonderful people. I couldn’t be any happier. It really is an honour and it means a lot that PPI saw potential and decided that I deserved the chance to enrol in this program.
Laureus has always been one of the “sports for good” organisations I like. Being involved with them, one way or the other, has always been my ultimate dream and when Kristin (PPI co worker) told me about the YES program opportunity ( which I’m going to talk about shortly ), I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity. I was head over heels and cancelled all my plans, which were to represent my school at the USSA’s basketball tournament in Port Elizabeth. It wasn’t easy but I knew it was worth it. I didn’t know that then, however. That said, I knew this opportunity was once in a life time. USSA’s next year??
In a nutshell, the ”Laureus Youth Empowerment through sport Programme (YES) is a six months pilot project aimed at empowering young people to use sport as a tool to promote positive change in their lives and communities.” The program is run by Mthokozisi Madondo, who is very authentic, most polite, grounded, kind , patient and caring. Mthoko goes beyond his job description and is always there for us, especially emotionally.
I was just amazed by the effort that Mthoko and his stakeholders put into making this program a great success. I learned a whole lot of different things, was challenged on so many different levels, and was given insight about a lot. From the guest speakers to the IT guys to the PPI fellow colleagues and the fellow participants; I learnt so much from these amazing people. They gave me a chance to perceive the world around me differently, cautiously and broadly. You know, during and after the program I realised that life is a mystery; we learn everyday and just when you think you know it all, someone comes and reminds you that your room is not as full as you think it is. You’ll always have someone to present you with something new; you just have to choose to open up to them. Partaking in the activities and just being part of the group stimulated a whole lot of emotions. I feared, I cried, I rejoiced, I cared, I laughed (sooo much), I sympathised and empathized, I was startled (…by Maloisane for making the banana disappear), I admired…I mean, I even got a glimpse of parts of me that I never thought I’d ever reach or have, rather.
I got a chance to overcome my greatest fears. Fear of height, water (…just deep water). I went canoeing! The anxiety, the adrenaline rush and just giving my mates the benefit of the doubts, made it more fun and more special to me. It was great, period. The morning and the evening glory on the horizon and around me were as satisfying as the authentic beautiful smiles of people I was surrounded by.
I also got a pitch full of insight about a whole lot of LITTLE things that I barely pay attention to. Yet the little things are crucial. The little things are what make you whole as a person and an individual. Things like being aware of the group of people that are in and out of your circle of life, knowing what gives you life and things like acknowledging how you treat and see people around you. Do you see them as objects or equals? These are some of the things that are unconsciously, sometimes intentionally, overlooked. However, the little things are what make the complete being.
It was a privilege being part of the Laureus YES program. I could not have spent my holidays differently or anyway better. It’s like someone sneaked into my brain, just saw all the blanks and automatically drove me into this program; the experience is irreplaceable and it was everything I needed. I hope Mthoko continues touching lives and developing the youth for the betterment of themselves and the people around them.
Frankly, you all are amazing, and I’m glad to have met you.
Love, Andile Msomi