The aim is to inspire, says sports development coach

MZOXOLO BUDAZA AND KEAGAN MITCHELL

Sports Stepping Stones (SSS) founder, Abubaker “Boebie” Cassiem, believes playing ball is one way to encourage children to reach their full potential.

Cassiem and his team held coaching clinics in Steenberg, Freedom Park, Mitchell’s Plain and other areas accross the city over the past three weeks. The clinics are part of the organisation’s Balls to Poverty programme.

Steenberg’s Shukri Jones, a third-year sports management student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, was among the volunteer coaches taking the young ones through their paces.

Jones said that is one of the things they wanted to achieve – playing a role in boosting the youngsters’ confidence levels.

He said he was helping out at the Community Chest Carnival, in Wynberg, when he heard SSS director Boebie Cassiem speaking about soccer to a group of UK-based coaches. He got interested, introduced himself and, later, got involved. He said Cassiem told him to come back the following day and see where to from there. The rest, as they say, is history and the

28-year-old is now an integral part of the programme.

Jones said the feedback they got from the pupils and the schools during their clinics had been overwhelming.

“That’s why we don’t want to stop,” he said.

Cassiem said the Balls to Poverty programme was established more than 10 years ago when students from the UK started delivering soccer balls to different communities in South Africa. He said it had evolved to the point that all the volunteers working in Cape Town were home grown.

“It is important in a sense that they know these communities and the challenges faced. The children, in return, can also identify with them, which make things easier for everyone involved,” he said.

The programme culminated in a graduation ceremony, at Turfhall Stadium on Saturday, where the participating children received soccer balls while the coaches received certificates.

Sharief Adams, the programme’s co-ordinator agreed, saying it was important to share whatever skills and expertise they had, with the youngsters. “It was extremely heart-warming to see the smile on the children faces and the enjoyment they get out of it. Many of the times we learn more from them than them learning from us. Every area we visit, we try to leave a legacy and something positive behind. To make a positive impact in their lives and inspire them to reach their full potential is something special.”

Oaklands High School pupil Mahir Lindsay, 14, was among the volunteer coaches taking the young ones through their paces.

The Grade 8 pupil described his experiences during the clinics as entertaining and educational.

This, he said, was because fellow coaches, and participating pupils, we able to teach him things he would otherwise not have learnt.

“It was good for my confidence and self-belief, not only in terms of sport but in other aspects too.

“Now I feel like I would be able to stand in front of my school and give a speech. That’s how confident I am feeling right now,” he said.