Londiwe Hlatstwayo, a sports enthusiast from Kagiso, has risen to the challenge life has placed before her and stepped into a male-dominated sporting code to become a vibrant coach, producing thriving school soccer teams in the Tsogo Sun soccer programme in Kagiso.

She is an inspirational role model, embracing the challenges she faces, starting with the all too common perception that women should not coach boys teams.

Her tenacity and commitment to creating an environment that fosters community support and respect for the students, the game and the coaches, keep Hlatshwayo at the top of her game.

Vusi Dlamini, group human resources director of Tsogo Sun, says:

“The Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy provides a comprehensive model to achieve the holistic development of the child, which includes keeping youngsters active, the development of talent and life skills.

“Alongside the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Sport and Recreation, the relevant sporting federations and the community, we understand that sport is a tool for transformation that can enhance a learner’s life.”

To ensure the sustainability of the soccer academy one of its key components includes the sourcing of coaches from the relevant schools.

The coaches are given the opportunity to become accredited coaches through the programme’s association with the South African Football Association (Safa) and various other bodies such as the KVNB Dutch Football Association international coaching workshops.

Hlatstwayo became a soccer coach in the programme at Kagiso’s Khaselihle Primary School by accident.

She had always played sport as a child and had the passion to develop youth through team sports.

She was the netball coordinator at her previous school and with this experience and commitment Hlatstwayo was ready to step into a netball coaching position at Khaselihle Primary.

But there were no netball coaching posts available. Undeterred, she became an athletics coach.

When the athletics season drew to an end she decided to take on the daunting task of becoming a soccer coach.

As someone who had never played soccer before but who loved the game, Hlatstwayo had to acquire knowledge of the sport to become the best soccer coach she could.

She has already completed the Safa introductory level course and is already planning to do the Safa Level 1 course.

She then became the proud coach of the U-12 and U-14 soccer teams at Khaselihle Primary School in the Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy school league.

The U-14 team has won a number of recent tournaments and with continuous training, dedication and growing strategic understanding by the U12 soccer team she hopes to continue her team’s winning streak.

“I enjoy soccer more than netball now.

Initially gaining the support and trust of the community and the parents was a challenge but through perseverance and building teams with the spirit to win, i now have the community’s support as a coach.

This is encouraging because I believe sport has the power to help bring a community together,” Hlatstwayo said.

By being part of a sport, students learn a range of skills but Hlatstwayo still expects them to do well in their school work.

The students need to understand that there is more to life than just sport or academics and that a combination of both is essential for their holistic development.

Source: The New age online – news@thenewage.co.za