At Reach Sports we are committed to giving youth access and opportunities to realise their potential on and off the sports field. In February, we had a training opportunity in Malaysia and enrolled a talented young South African facilitator to co-deliver with us.
Katlego Malaka, is an intelligent young man from Alexandra township, south of Johannesburg, South Africa. He is quiet, and unassuming. If you did not know any better you would not think he was a facilitator. However, give him an opportunity to work with people and he comes alive. His sheer love, enthusiasm and commitment to improving others and learning is refreshing. In Malaysia, we got to work with him and he was INSPIRING.
We asked Katlego to share his experiences:
Life has a way of giving us back for the good that we do to help others. I have been involved in sports facilitation for over 7 years, sharing my knowledge and skills with youth across South Africa. One of my greatest dreams was to facilitate outside South Africa.
When I got invited to join #TeamReach in Malaysia, I thought I was dreaming. I asked myself why me? Especially considering my upbringing and the fact that I have never facilitated internationally before. I had many fears and doubts, such as, what if I was not good enough? What if I let Mthoko down? What if I can’t do what he thinks I can do? However, on my way to the airport, I told myself that I was chosen amongst a group of great youth facilitators. I knew he must have seen something positive in me to give me this opportunity. I was flying to Malaysia to grow myself and help grow Reach Sports.
We at Reach Sports knew that we had made the right choice. We had selected Katlego from a group of youth leaders we have worked with and the skills he has demonstrated in leading and facilitating projects. We believe in his potential and knew we could trust him in working with important partners.
Malaysia was life changing in many ways and I felt like a child in a toy store, discovering all these gifts I had and the beauty of experiencing a new culture. I do not know anyone in my community who has been to Malaysia. The people and culture in Malaysia are extraordinary. I enjoyed that people of Malaysia believe in sharing. I learnt that people of Malaysia pray a lot even in schools they encourage their kids to pray. In South Africa I have witnessed Gender Based Violence against woman, the culture in Malaysia is set up in a way that woman are respected and are given equally opportunities as man. I grew up in a community where young people don’t respect elders and vice versa, but in Malaysia it was a different case, everyone respects one another regardless of their age, race, religion or gender.
Reach Sports was in Malaysia to deliver a training workshop for army veterans and teachers. The training was aimed at using the power of games and play to teach life skills in schools across Malaysia. This ambitious programme involves multiple stakeholders from the government, schools, community to create a programme that helps young people learn about 5 core values in a safe environment. The values are: Confidence, Integrity, Resilience, Teamwork and Respect.
We facilitated sessions to a group of veterans and teachers who were amazingly receptive. This was a fantastic learning experience for me and I was privileged to work alongside Mthoko. I learnt a lot about how to work with stakeholders, manage a bigger group and different ways in which you can get your message across to a large group of people who are speaking a different language. I valued the importance the veterans and teachers placed on gaining knowledge and this helped understand the importance of ensuring that as a facilitator I was skilled enough to be able to share the right information, in the right manner and at the appropriate time. I also gained new skills, different content and delivery methods around creating fun and interactive spaces for participants. The most important part was the feedback I received from, the training participants and Mthoko which I found to be constructive and helpful for my growth and development.
With the help of Katlego, Reach Sports was able to deliver training to close to 150 veterans and teachers over four days. We are grateful to our partners in Malaysia for the opportunity to work in Malaysia.
Although we had early starts and sometimes finished working in the early evenings, Malaysia was not all work. I got to make new friends that I would never have had the opportunity to meet. I also discovered I was an adventurous foodie, who is not afraid to try different cuisines. I was exposed to and enjoyed Malaysian traditional food a lot, they cook their rice and chicken so well. I got a chance to try Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Thai, foods I have never tried before. My favourite foods I tried were the Malaysian fruit called Durian, and a fried frog. I never thought I could eat frog, but it was fantastic, it tasted like 'chicken'.
I am an organised and an honest person, which has helped me follow a path of leadership development and facilitation. As a goal-oriented person, I am passionate about helping others to achieve their own goals. I am a strong believer in leading by example. To demand excellence from others one must strive for excellence in themselves. My community is very important to me and I want to ensure that my work contributes to improving my community. I always wanted to travel around the world and learn about what works well in other countries and how I could apply this in Alexandra and other communities around South Africa.
I believe the opportunity to travel to Malaysia will open more doors for me in South Africa and internationally in terms of facilitation. This opportunity has cemented my commitment to help others.
I would like to inspire youth in South Africa and beyond, to engage in Sports for Development activities. They don’t necessary have to coach but they can teach their peers about the importance of using fun and engaging physical sports activities to help kids learn about more than just sport.
My journey from Durban to Monaco for the Laureus World Sports Awards
17 years ago when Tata Nelson Mandela, stood on stage in Monaco and delivered one of the most celebrated speeches in the history of sport during the first Laureus World Sports Awards I was running around playing hide and seek, indigenous games and rugby in Umlazi, a township South of Durban, South Africa.
Growing up in uMlazi, as a girl I had limited opportunities to play sport. Back then I was not aware of the role sport would play in my life. Today, I am proud to say sport has been such an integral part of my development and I genuinely believe in the power of sport to make a difference. Tata Mandela’s words ring true to me, sport truly speaks in a language that I understand and it has transformed my life, given me a sense of belonging and hope.
Even in my wildest dreams I would never have imagined being in Monaco, celebrating the power of sport with some of the greatest sporting legends of all time and the most celebrated athletes of my generation. As I wondered around Monaco, I reflected on my improbable journey from uMlazi to the glamorous streets of Monaco.
My journey to the Laureus World Sport Awards began when PeacePlayers International (PPI), an NGO that creates leaders and peace makers through basketball introduced basketball to my school. I remember the basketball court rising up from the dust with the backdrop of the azure African sky. The black tar, the white and yellow lines being plastered across the court and the hoops rising up. I remember the balls gingerly falling out of the coaches’ bag, the first time my hands caressed the moody groves of the orange ball, I remember that smell of rubber. I was hooked. About a hundred of us stood on the court transfixed on the coaches every single words.
The feeling I got running after those basketballs was the same feeling I got when tackling my brother over the overgrown grass in front of my mothers house. I didn't know it then but sport has provided me with friendships, a platform for inclusion, countless opportunities and has helped me develop life skills and leadership abilities.
Today I am a proud member of Reach Sports, which gave me the opportunity to travel to Monaco to talk to sports stars about the role sport has played in their lives. I doubt my basketball talent landed me this opportunity to cross paths with celebrated sports stars like Tamika Catchings and Usain Bolt.
Reach Sport is about breaking down the biggest barriers, opportunity & access. And that is how it felt for me to be at the Awards. This opportunity was about, amongst other things, placing me in a world that I never imagine possible. It was about inclusion and embracing the role I can play in the world through sport. I am very humbled.
Seeing Simone Biles’ face as she walks through that door with the Laureus in her hand looking proud, and Tegla Loroupe beaming with pride reminded me of the rewarding of the amazing power of sport. I was reminded of my friends from home and how we need to harness talent in townships and hard to reach areas. Simone and Tegla have overcome insurmountable challenges and they are paving a way for girls to dream about a career in sports. I loved seeing the connection that Laureus creates between sporting legends and grassroots sports.
"To be a young person that has benefited from the work of Laureus and to see the connection between grassroots and elite sport is powerful."
We walked long distances to get to school and with my new found love for basketball my mother was concerned about my safety when coming home from playing sport at night. She did not want me to play basketball but I just could not stop. I kept playing and working hard. I was invited to be a coach at PPI. This gave me an opportunity to give back to young people and share skills I had gained. I was one of 11 youth leaders selected to the first Laureus YES programme, aimed at developing youth leadership through sport. Sport has made a world of a difference to me. I want to help other young people like me through sport.
I live in a world where as a woman you constantly have to prove your worth. A society where ones life is already planned out and decided based on gender stereotypes and norms that usually perpetrate patriarchy. This is a world where racism, sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, violence, poverty and unemployment are everyday occurences. Being lost in that type of world is not impossible. I think sport in a small way provides a refuge.
Thanks to Reach Sport for the opportunity, and thanks to sport for giving me that sense of belonging.
We celebrate the power of sport to make a difference in communities around the world.