The Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport visits Ukhanyo

Earlier this week Anroux Marais, the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, visited Ukhanyo Primary School  at the invitation of Vince van der Bijl the project leader of the MCC Masi 750 Sports Club. and the school principal, Michael Thayali.

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The Minister first attended the Traditional Dance group practice session. Milli Firth, Masicorp MD, then took the Minister to the specialist English Lab sponsored by Masicorp and discussed the NGO’s academic support programme of the school.

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The Minister was entertained by a netball practice and then a PE class conducted by Nceba Jonas. The cricket net practice was in full swing with over 50 cricketers – both boys and girls. Girls cricket has been recently introduced at the school for the first time and there was an array of coaches for the minisiter to meet – headed by sport coordinator Teddy Nyali.

The Minister concluded her visit with a meeting at the Masicorp offices to discuss the possible ways the Western Cape Government can assist the school and the project with its sport and cultural affairs agenda.

The Launch of the MCC Masi 750 Sports Club

It was quite a day on Tuesday as Ukhanyo Primary school opened its doors to its neighbours, local NGOs and international guests as the MCC Masi 750 Sports Club was formally launched. The launch event saw the official opening of three state of the art astro-turf cricket nets, funded by a generous donation of 50,000 pounds from the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London. The facility forms part of Masicorp’s ongoing commitment to improve the sports facilities at the school, following the installation of the all-weather sprint track at the school last year.

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Masicorp is lucky to have Cape Town born, former Natal and Middlesex bowler Vince van der Bijl to lead the project. The project has received international attention thanks to Vince’s tireless efforts in recent months. Speaking on the day on behalf of the MCC, CEO Derek Brewer mentioned that at a committee meeting in Mumbai last year Vince managed to bring cricket in Masiphumelele onto the agenda of a meeting to discuss the future of test cricket. Derek is seen here accepting a gift on behalf of Ukhanyo School, and we cannot thank him enough for making himself available by flying into Cape Town for just two days to be part of this event.

 

The launch event was extremely well attended and despite the inclement weather there was no danger that rain would stop play for the excited learners. The first place most visitors wanted to see was the nets themselves, which were being used for the first time since their construction. We must also thank our courageous photographers for bringing us these action pictures by bravely positioning their expensive camera lenses directly in the line of fire. Clearly there are already some big-hitting youngsters benefitting from the new facility.

 

For a full overview of the learners in action you can view the footage shown by SABC news HERE.

MCC 750 launch 4The school also opened up its learning labs to the many visitors, with computing, English, science and maths classes all part of the open day. The full range of extramural activities were on display ranging from a game of netball to the school choir that welcomed delegates to their seats. The guests seemed to particularly enjoy the young praise singer who welcomed school principal Michael Thyali as he stood to thank the visitors and the MCC for their kind award. Derek Brewer was impressed enough to note that Michael’s colourful jacket even outshone the traditional MCC Lords jackets.

 

IMG_6608The school’s violinists closed the event, but for the project itself there is still a long way to go. Vince’s aim is to attract 750 members to the club who will donate R100-200 on a monthly basis to ensure the sustainability of the project, and the expansion to provide further equipment and facilities at the school. The long-term plan is to appoint a full-time sports administrator at the school and assistant coaches for the remarkable Nceba Jonas, who is currently the sole PE instructor delivering lessons to over 1,800 learners. With help from Fish Hoek cricket club the coaching of a girl’s team has begun and we hope that the school will soon be able to participate in inter school league competitions.

Please consider helping the project by joining the MCC Masi 750 Sports club. Donations can be made via the secure credit card facility on the Masicorp website.

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Photo credits: Stephen Cruickshank and Louise de Waal

Hiking with the Learners from Ukhanyo School

Masicorp has recently started working with Cape Town based Active Hearts to provide outdoor activities for the children at Ukhanyo Primary School. Active Hearts have a mission to involve and train children, from differing, disadvantaged areas across Cape Town, in various sports and activities not normally available to them.

This very much matches our awareness of the importance of physical education. As Active Hearts state on their own website:

The benefits of sport and activity are immense and far-reaching, giving confidence, teaching discipline, teamwork and a sense of security and belonging.   A ‘family;’ being part of something you can rely on; equipping the children to face the very real challenges in their lives with a renewed optimism.

Active Hearts have been providing monthly hikes for selected children from Ukhanyo School. School sports coach Nceba Jonas has brought groups of around 25 learners to meet with Active Hearts and together they have hiked through the local mountains and along the beautiful beach at Nordhoek. The day typically ends with a picnic on the beach. We are pleased to share some of the most recent photographs from this month’s hike.

This will be an on ongoing partnership, with the next event planned to take the learners over the mountain and into the slightly different environment of the Constantia Valley. Our thanks to the team at Active Hearts for enabling the Masiphumelele learners to experience the wonders of their local environment.

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Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) visit Ukhanyo School

We were delighted to recently welcome some of the local and international staff of the Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) to Ukhanyo School last week. RGA are an international global life and health reinsurance company with operations in 27 countries, including offices in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Their visit was part of their giving 67 minutes for Mandela Day, which is an annual event in South Africa. Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years and the concept of the day is for everyone (individuals and corporations) to give at least 67 minutes of their time to Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.

Our visitors from RGA generously provided an incredible 1,830 pre-prepared packs of gifts for the children, which were distributed one to each child. Every child in each grade received a pack. Quite a logistical feat for the visitors, staff and Masicorp volunteers. Each pack contained learning materials, health products (e.g., toothpaste) and healthy food (oranges and apples), as well as a few sweets as a treat.

It was also an opportunity for the staff of RGA to meet our team and learn about our projects at the school. Everyone was able to see for themselves by visiting the Maths, English and Science Labs as well as the new running track that has now been installed at the school. The Maths Lab in particular has benefited from a kind donation from RGA and was one of the highlights of the tour. We are hugely grateful for the interest of RGA in our work and hope that this can be the start of a longer term relationship as we further develop the sports and teaching facilities at the school.

There was a lot of excitement among the pupils with their bags of goodies, but it was lovely to see them taking the time to thank the visitors personally. This included one of the pupils giving a hand written note of thanks to one of our visitors before they departed. Our team, the school staff and the learners all hope it will not be too long before the next visit.

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Movement lessons for the Masi Educare learners

We are always grateful to the many volunteers that give their time to support our educational projects. Recently we were pleased to receive assistance from Kate Meeser from the Department of Sport Science at Stellenbosch University. Kate gave her time to provide movement lessons to the learners at Masi Educare. You can view her photographs and report on the day below.

On the 26th of August, I was warmly welcomed by Masi Educare to host a small movement lesson for the age five to six-year-old age group. We started off the lesson with a musical dance warm-up and some stretches. The children were divided into four groups that rotated activity stations, spending ten minutes at each station. The activities included a hand-eye throwing task with various aiming skills, a station dedicated to balance and midline crossing, an agility task and target task. All stations included an element of gross and fine motor skills. The children were disciplined and obedient. After the first two rotations they were all working up a sweat while seeming to have a fun time. It was such a privilege being able to have a willing and keen group of children and even more so an involved and interested group of staff members. The session ended with a stretch and song. Hopefully in the future similar event can be held and the children continue to receive the movement education they require at the age.

Kate Meeser

Sport Science Stellenbosch

Let’s Play at Ukhanyo School

Let’s Play is a corporate social responsibility initiative developed by SuperSport and partners to make more children passionate about sport and schools to encourage physical education. Children in South Africa are perceived as becoming alarmingly inactive and many schools do not even include Physical Education (PE) in their curriculum.   At Ukhanyo Primary School in Masiphumelele each child takes part in PE activities at least once a week. Their coach, Nceba Jonas (sponsored by Masicorp) works hard to instil a love of sporting activities in all the children under his care. The newly constructed sports court and sprint track at the school have greatly enhanced these sessions of course!

LETS-PLAY-2012-SiyadlalaThe Let’s Play Competition focusses on Grade 4 primary school children and has been developed to encourage and enhance a child’s physical skills of balance, agility, speed and co-ordination.   The incentive to the participating schools is the prize of a brand new sports court valued at R1.1m.    Children from all over South Africa take part each year and this year Ukhanyo Primary School entered for the first time.

A prior date set aside in April had to be postponed due to heavy wind and rain, but notification came through two weeks ago that a new date was set for the competition.   A number of Grade 4’s were chosen to take part and feverish preparations took place during the ensuing PE sessions.

There was thus great excitement at Ukhanyo Primary School on Friday morning 12 August.  The Let’s Play crew arrived to set up and as it was raining heavily, initially said that they could not run the competition as planned.   There was deep disappointment from all the assembled Grade 4 learners, so we scooped them up and drove them all to KFC for chips and Coke.   While on the way there a call came through to say “Come back! – we can do it after all”!

With tummies lacking chips and Coke (thankfully) they hurried back to school and re-assembled under the cover of the school hall (it was still raining lightly) and waited patiently while the obstacle course was set up. A great deal of explanation then took place, followed by demonstrations and practices. The course was deliberately complex and covered a number of key aptitudes that it became clear, are difficult for the children to grasp first time around. The boys and girls lined up separately and they were off, throwing and catching a rugby ball while jumping into coloured hoops, then a series of hopping over bars, rolling a soccer ball  and then a ‘potato race’ of sorts involving strict sequences. Each child took part twice and received a sticker after each go to avoid any avoidance or duplication.  In fact all the children were mad keen to take part!

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Coach Nceba played a critical part on the day and learnt from the whole exercise as did the Ukhanyo Primary School teachers who attended. The good news is that we scored well above average and the Grade 4’s of next year will be able to take part again, with a similar course, so Nceba will now be able put his PE classes through their paces with his new insight into the skills and concepts incorporated into the competition by the Let’s Play team.

We wait with bated breath to hear how Ukhanyo Primary School fared in comparison with other Western Cape schools who entered.

Sports Trader Helps Masicorp Source Tracksuits for Ukhanyo School

We are very grateful to Sports Trader for their hard work in sourcing tracksuits and other sports kit for the pupils of Ukhanyo School. The full story was recently published on the Sports Trader web site and is reproduced here.

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Sports Trader was humbled and very impressed with the offers of help from industry members when we told them how sport and educations was being used to bring hope to the youngsters in the impoverished Masiphumelele township

Many companies in the sport and outdoor retail industry already invest substantially in CSI projects, but when we heard the inspiring story of the work being done by coach Nceba Jonas and the Masicorp Trust in the impoverished Masiphumelele community (between Kommetjie and Fish Hoek near Cape Town) we took the liberty of asking them to assist with much-needed tracksuits.

We were very grateful and impressed by the many, many offers of assistance we received — especially from Kappa SA, ASICS SA and retailer American Clothing, who were first off the mark to generously offer free donations of tracksuits for community netball teams and their coaches.

Springbok suppliers ASICS SA did not hesitate to respond to our request: “We will certainly see how we can assist and support,” said marketing manager Sarah Mundy. “We do already support other causes, however, given the nature of your request, we will see how we can assist.”

While they did not have complete tracksuits available, Wesley Tam, Core Performance Sports Marketing Executive, supplied hooded tops and tracksuit pants for the coaches.

“As a brand, Kappa SA believes in helping to grow the community of South Africa,” says Ricky Joseph, who donated 14 tracksuits for one netball team. “A project such as this is something that we feel extremely touched by. While kids may have the most amazing skills and attributes, sometimes to look and feel good is as important. We believe that by donating these tracksuits to these athletes we will give them an added ability on and off the field. We want to uplift as many disadvantaged communities as possible and enable even those less fortunate in our country to be able to look and feel the best while competing.”

Kamlesh Chagan, owner of the American Clothing stores in Cape Town, believes in supporting the Southern Peninsula communities that have been supporting his family’s business for the past 50 years, after his father opened their first store in Retreat. “I believe in giving back to organisations that support the communities in the areas where I grew up, who provided our family with an income,” he says.

They receive requests for donations on almost a daily basis and he has become wary of everybody knocking on their doors. But, he does support organisations that are empowering young adults surrounded by influences like drugs, etc. to rather follow a path powered by sport or education, says Chagan. He therefore gladly bought matching tracksuits from Kappa at a special price to donate to another Masiphumelele netball team.

After considering several initiatives, Sports Trader decided to support the Masicorp Trust, which has been providing educational and community-based support to the Masiphumelele township since 1999, where more than 38 000 people live disadvantaged and poor (see www.masicorp.org).

What appealed to us is the fact that the Masicorp Trust focuses on education as the way out of poverty, instead of hand-outs.

But, most of all, we were inspired by the enthusiastic sports organiser who, we believe, deserves as much support as possible. The Masicorp Trust pays the salary of community member coach Nceba Jonas, who chairs the community sports programme and also:

  • With the help of volunteers and in partnership with the NGO Goodsport, runs the physical education programme at Ukhanyo Primary School;
  • In the afternoons he also coaches the primary school teams in soccer, rugby, cricket and netball. They have been doing exceptionally well and often win their matches against sporting schools in this league and the principal’s office is filled with trophies won by the sports teams. Their netball team is the current holders of the Southern Peninsula League Championship title.
  • In addition, coach Nceba is chairman of the Masi community sports council and coaches community teams (who required the tracksuits) at the Fish Hoek Pirates netball and soccer club. And if that is not enough, he also runs aerobics classes in the community hall in the evenings.

The Masiphumelele community is very poor and parents struggle to afford sports kit — the primary school teams have therefore been competing in generic white T-shirts and shorts against well-equipped opponents wearing proper kits.

Coach Nceba has a dream that all his teams will one day be able to meet their opponents wearing proper school team kit, which would give his young learners the confidence to meet other schools on equal footing.