UNITED Through Sport in South Africa made history as an organisation with the first of its youth members graduating in 2019.
Seven members of the organisation’s YOUth 1st Network are entering the world of work after completing their tertiary qualifications in 2018 in Nelson Mandela Bay. Four of the graduates attended top South African high schools (Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth and Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg) through scholarships made possible by United Through Sport’s Senior School of Excellence.
United Through Sport Director Nick Mould said the beneficiaries have reached the top of the organisation’s pyramid model – consisting of four different programmes feeding into each other and each level increasing in its depth of the impact per beneficiary, starting at primary school.
“The graduates have come full circle from being identified on the sports field in our Mass Participation Programme, to completing their secondary schooling at top schools in the country, and finally stepping out of the poverty cycle by achieving their degrees. They are now able to earn a living and make a meaningful contribution to the economy and the communities where they live,” said Mould.
Lindiwe graduated with her BA degree, majoring in Political Science and Public Administration, from Nelson Mandela University in April this year. Lindiwe, whose netball talent was personally recognised by Mould who secured a bursary for her to attend Pearson High School from 2011 - 2014, is the first person to graduate in her family.
“It’s only now that I am graduating, that I realise how far I have come. It wasn’t always easy, but I stayed positive and never gave up. I knew from the beginning that I just had to work harder than the other children at my high school. I never wanted to go back to wearing my old school’s uniform and that motivated me to persevere,” said Lindiwe.
This year she will be working as the YOUth 1st Network Co-ordinator on a full-time basis at United Through Sport’s office in Newton Park, Nelson Mandela Bay, and plans to also pursue further studies by doing an Honours degree in Public Administration. “My long-term future plan is to one day sponsor a child for all his or her years of studies, in the same way that I was assisted. For now, I think I am going to enjoy my job as co-ordinator at United Through Sport because I will be helping our youth with bursaries and encouraging them to work hard and persevere with their studies,” said Lindiwe.
Another United Through Sport beneficiary, Sibulele, graduated with his BSc. Hons (Construction Management) from Nelson Mandela University in 2019.
Like Lindiwe, he was part of United Through Sport for 10 years, firstly as a Senior School of Excellence beneficiary who was recognised for his rugby talent and placed at Pearson High School, and later as a YOUth 1st Network member. He will continue his studies this year by tackling his Master of Science Degree in Construction Management.
“I am here today because of United Through Sport. I was able to go to a top school like Pearson, which opened many doors for me. I grew as an individual and am grateful for the opportunity I got,” said Sibulele.
Sibulele is passionate about development work and was the co-ordinator of the youth chapter of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in Port Elizabeth. He also developed a proposal for a resource centre in Missionvale, which he hopes will one day help children with afterschool homework and leadership mentoring.
“We have to build ladders and pay it forward. I was blessed with this opportunity and I want to give back to others in the community around the Missionvale Campus,” Sibulele, originally from Motherwell, said.
Sibulele and Lindiwe, along with the other graduates, all worked in the YOUth 1st Network during their tertiary studies by mentoring and giving homework support to high school learners from the Senior School of Excellence Programme.
Other graduates from the YOUth 1st Network completed a B. Com Degree in Marketing and Business Management; a Tourism Diploma, a HR Management Diploma; a Journalism & Media Studies Diploma, and a degree in Quantity Surveying.