Sports coaching in South Africa – the best part of my gap year!

Hannah went off to South Africa on Thursday 15th July to join the first two weeks of the new group starting the sports coaching placement in Port Elizabeth.  She was adamant that she could only spare two weeks as my representative to report back on the nitty gritty of the placement.  On day 1 she informed me that she wanted to stay the full 5 weeks as she loved it so much!  Here is some of her much awaited blog:

Week one:

Eleven hours later, and Heathrow airport becomes Johannesburg. The flight was really good, two seats just for me and I woke up with one hour to eat breakfast before landing 🙂 South African airways was really good, couple of good movies and nice big seats. Jo’berg airport was really confusing, far too many signs and options and terminals. Managed to collect my bags okay and check them back in before getting very lost somewhere between check in and security. Found, what I thought was, nice man to show me the way – turns out he wants payment as he not very subtly hinted. I felt bad as he told me he doesnt actually get a salary so i gave him the equivalent of 20p (2 rand) and a big smile, then ran away before he could comment on my stingyness and make me feel guilty. Other than that was relatively stress free, although since then have heard various stories about girls having to bribe officials to get their bags checked in.

Anyway, waited a few hours before jumping on a teeny tiny plane to Port Elizabeth. Very awkward taxxiing moment where plus sized lady can’t actually ft in any of the seats and in the end is given two. Fell asleep resting head against seat tray and woke with massive mark on forehead. Landed. Grabbed bags (all very quick) and went for arrivals. Kurt, one of the staff, was there waiting for me and the other volunteers arriving on the same flight. He was really nice and welcoming. We waited for two more students, a lovely girl called Grace and boy called Andy. Jumped on what they call ‘the fun bus’ ~(one of the three buses used to move the volunteers around). We arrived at the accommodation. First thing I saw was the pool – definate bonus, only not heated and in winter, not so much. We met some of the volunteers who had been here for a couple of months and one irish girl who had arrived. All so lovely and chatty. We were shown round the dorms. They are very basic – bunkbeds, lockers (bring your own padlock), draws and a row of toilets and showers (curtains not doors). Theres also a communal kitchen and sofa area with a television. Then we were pretty much left to our own devices as we were there a day before the placement officially started. That night was so much fun, we played pool and table tennis, drinking games with alcohol bought from the spa up the road, and then all went out to some clubs in town. The nightlife seems really good here and relatively safe as long as you go to the right areas, which the staff advised us on. We were dropped  off in town, and we all got taxis back. It was a really good night out.

All the other volunteers have just arrived. Its crazily hectic now with so many people to get to know and names to remember. There must be about 40 of us all together. I wasn’t expecting it to be so sociable, and a few of the quieter volunteers have mentioned this as well. The majority of us are between 18 and 22, but there are about 15 older volunteers aged between 24 and 50 (even one married couple). They have put the older volunteers in a separate house across the garden which is really nice with separate communal areas and just generally a bit more decorated and nice. There is a proper bathroom with a beautiful shower and bath, but only one to share between 14 of us! I am in that house as there is a room with 3 french girls and I speak french. Its a little calmer than the other dorms. We spent the day lying in the sun chatting, and the evening with drinking games and table tennis. There are some really cool people here, I already love it! The only bad thing so far is that the food is going to make me so fat! Its mostly pasta, burgers, hot dogs – have found some body conscious girls and we are heading to the spa to get some healthier options, luckily its really cheap! The average week’s dinners are spaghetti bolegnaise, breaded chicken and mashed potato, chicken chow mein, burgers and chips, maccaroni cheese, etc. For lunch we are always given bread, cheese, chicken or tuna and salad to make sandwiches. For breakfast, bread and cereals are provided.

What an amazing day! They took us to Jefferys bay, a gorgeous beach where the Billabong surf championships were taking place. We all chilled out on the beach watching the surfing, playing rugby and sunbathing. The weather was so, so nice and hot! It’s supposed to be winter here but apart from being a bit chilly at night, its gorgeous. We were so clearly British whipping our clothes off at the first sight of sun while all the South Africans were in coats and boots! We went for a nice lunch, I had a huge fish! Only cost 5 pounds for an entire meal and it was a posh restaurant. Could have gone to the chippy and spent about 2 pounds. Went out that evening to Oyster Catcher at the port, so much fun! I think Oyster Catcher on Sundays is a regular thing out here. I am getting quite tired now! Have got to know the staff a bit better now and they are all really lovely and helpful, Kurt is absolutely hysterical he comes out with the most random things!

We started the induction today. Three coaches came and showed us the activities they do with the kids outside on the grass area. All high-energy, high spirited games involving lots of singing and dancing which are quite embarrasing to do in front of your mates but apparently the kids love them and they are good to have as back up during coaching and to keep the kids enthused. Those doing sports coaching also did some coaching theory which was really useful and got us all thinking about the coaching. Rob, one of the staff, got us into our groups (netball, tennis, basketball, hockey, rugby, football) and each group did a 30 minute practice coaching session on the others. Really useful and good fun to play rugby and all the rest. We were all pretty tired so a group of us went for dinner just up the road and had a few drinks before bed. Two of the boys went out in the township with some of the waitresses from the restaurant, we were scared for them but luckily they came back safely. Every night there’s always a few of us in the tv room chatting and having a snuggle, I love how sociable and friendly it is here and, I suppose because you are always together, you get close to the other volunteers very quickly. It feels like I’ve known some of them for alot longer than four days!

We started coaching today at last! It was incredible, so so much fun and just a totally humbling experience. We got the various buses at 9.30 to the first school. We had netball courts which we soon learned is rare, but no netball nets. The kids all ran at us screaming and hugging us when we got out of the bus. They all wanted to know our names and touch our hair and stuff! So cute. These kids were young, maybe 8 to 10 years old, so we started off playing some games that we had learnt on day four, and playing duck duck goose. They loved it. The induction was really useful, the kids already knew the games we were taught and with the language barrier, they were invaluable. They got really excited when we praised them by giving them a ‘kilo’ like we were taught (six claps and a ‘woo’ is the only way I could describe it!) We then moved to some simple ball skills and fun games involving footwork. Everyone was so keen and enthusiastic, and all of the coaches were really hyper and energetic with them which they loved. They didn’t really have any knowledge of the game though so when we tried to put them into a game complete chaos descended. We finished the hour and a half session with some more games and singing, at one point they all broke in to Shakiras ‘waka waka’ which was so much fun, they love all the singing and dancing. They have amazing rythm and voices too!! I hadn’t expected the difficulties with language which I  suppose was very naive, but you can get past it with a lot of demonstrations and enthusiasm. We ate our lunch in the bus – sandwiches we make back at the accommodation in the morning and fruit. Then we visited two other schools that afternoon and were home by about 4.30. The last school were 15 year olds and a lot more talented. You can pick up the coaching really easily, you just have to adapt to age groups, pitch conditions, equipment and all the rest. Maybe I should come up with some drills and things before the next one so I don’t run out of things to do with them. We were all so exhausted by the end of the day! A lot of us still went out though, we went to a shisha bar and club called Belizza. It was a really really nice club and generally really good fun! The nightlife is good here in Port Elizabeth, and if we are not going out about once a week they take us to the Boardwalk where we can go to the cinema, look around the shops or have a few drinks or a meal. There is a casino and arcade there too. Its very modernised.

Woke up this morning and it was raining for the first time. Sports coaching was cancelled so we were taken to see the Red Location Museum for free! Museums aren’t usually my thing but it was interesting to learn about the history of South Africa and the apartheid. Afterwards some of the volunteers went to the mall to do some shopping, which is a half an hour walk away, and one of the girls went to get her hair died. It seems like you can buy everything you need here but the clothes weren’t great in the mall, just cheap and tacky. It was so nice to have a lie-in this morning!!! I feel like I have made some really good friends here which is so nice and makes everything so much more fun! This weekend we are going back to Jeffreys Bay and a group of us are staying in a hostel there. We’re planning to do fishing, sand boarding, surfing, horse riding, everything! Next weekend we might road trip to Cape Town along the Garden Route! A lot of the volunteers are going to do bungee jumping and sky diving at Storms River, which should be incredible!! So far, I absolutely love it! Its the perfect mix for me, the volunteering is so rewarding and I feel like I’m doing something to help the kids here, and then the social life here is awesome. It’s perfect 🙂

We are in Jeffreys Bay! We’re staying in a hostel called Island Vibe which I think is where their surfing program takes place as well. The hostel is one of the coolest places I have stayed in in all my travels so far. It’s directly on the beach and there’s such a chilled out surfer vibe. It cost about 10 pounds a night each, and they transported us all there and back the next day (some people chose to come back the same day to save money as the transport was free if you did this). Some people have pitched tents and others are in dorms like ours. We are in a ten man dorm, both the boys and girls, which should be good fun. Some of the girls were not happy about taking off their makeup and things though! Almost forgot to mention, on the way here we went sandboarding!!! It was so awesome!! It cost 200 rand which is about 20 quid and well worth it. Some spectacular falls aswell! Spent some time on the beach and then we had to make masks for a party going on at the hostel tonight, mine actually looked awesome considering I am artistically challenged. Met some of the other travellers which was good, including a really interesting guy with dreadlocks who has just made a 600 page book of his photography. It was INCREDIBLE. Having said that, once he got talking about it he actually didn’t stop.   I must have been there for about an hour. Being here has shown that some of the quieter volunteers are really starting to come out of their shell which is nice to see. One guy in particular is here for 12 weeks, he barely spoke at the beginning but now he’s already so much more talkative and confident. This experience is perfect for him too as he wants to do medicine but didn’t get into any universities because of his interviews, I reckon this will sort that out by giving him some more confidence!

Last night was a really fun night. We chilled at the hostel party for a bit and had some drinks and then went on to a club. It was really cool, kind of like a converted warehouse. Some weird people were doing like line dancing at the edge of the room ? We met some south african rugby players and the boys are going to play touch rugby with them on the beach tomorrow.

Hannah Golding

(For more information about this and other placements, go to http://www.volunteervacations.co.uk, email us on info@volunteervacations.co.uk or ring us on 01483 331551/07833 208 158.

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About www.volunteervacations.co.uk

We send gap year students, university students, families, people on Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and people on career breaks to coach sports, teach and work in orphanages targetting underpriviledged children in South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland and India. New projects coming up in Thailand and Brazil. In Swaziland we offer bespoke rugby coaching placements with the charity Skrum where volunteers (18 ) can take their Level 1 rugby coaching certificate and then travel on to other placements and coach rugby. In India, the placements are suitable for families and undeer 18's are accepted providing they are accompanied by an adult. India is also suitable for Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. We also offer building renovation and reconstruction in India in July. India placements can be from 2 to 12 weeks.
This entry was posted in Charities in South Africa, Gap Year, sports coaching abroad, The Volunteer Experience, Tips & Advice, Volunteer rugby coaching abroad, volunteer teaching abroad, volunteering in South Africa and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sports coaching in South Africa – the best part of my gap year!

  1. daryll says:

    spiffing! (;

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