The South African dream

“Empowering through sports” is training4changeS mission and reality.

Rumour has it that sports can benefit individuals in all aspects of their life, but what if you had the opportunity to experience it first hand? Holly Hinds, a 20-year-old student from the University of Hertfordshire has decided to take a year out from her studies to teach, develop and promote futsal as a catalyst of social development in a South African school in through training4changeS.

Training4changeS was created by Daniel and Kendra Thomae in 2010, after Daniel realised that his childhood in rural Africa was deeply impacted by the football games he participated in. “In Africa, having a ball at your feet creates a sense of hope; hope to have an education, to travel, to have food on the table and providing for your family” Daniel Thomae explains on training4changeS website. It is with the intention of rekindling and creating an eternal glimmer of hope in African lives that the Thomae family came to South Africa with their sports project.

Picture taken by Training4changes

The fundamental of training4changeS lies in the belief that physical activity can change people’s lives; by creating a football and futsal school in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where coaches are formed and participants as young as 5 years old are encouraged to learn and participate in physical activity. The sport part is a given in the project, what makes Training4changeS unique is its school setting that enables volunteers and workers to encourage, help and motivate participants to attend schools and do their homework before playing. The project is always in need of funding and volunteers and has recently found an increasing success online; where Holly first heard of them.

As Holly braces herself for the biggest adventure of her life, she has time to answer a few questions including why she has decided to go to Stellenbosch: “Sport development is the module I find the most stimulating on my course; and I want to pursue a career in futsal development. When I was looking for a potential placement, I fell upon training4changeS and was immediately impressed and curious. I was offered the opportunity to work for a whole year as a women’s coach and implement their new strategy to empower women and promote equality through futsal, it was an opportunity too good to miss!”

The futsal project is now trying to empower African women and give them equal opportunities; a concept that has been unknown to them throughout their whole lives.  As part of her role Holly will monitor and evaluate all women sessions (might it be at sports or school), assist the Development Manager in overseeing whole life coaching activities including, but not limited to skills training with coaches and 
monitoring athletes’ academic performance. Her role not only resides in the women side, as she will be monitoring, evaluating and supporting the holistic development of all athletes and be a role model by leading by example and able to gain the respect and the trust of those you work with and the surrounding community.

Holly first became actively involved with futsal at school, where her school team including herself represented the UK at the school futsal world cup after reaching the qualifying stage. Since then, Holly has been focussing on futsal and has been the main reason the University of Hertfordshire futsal club now has a women’s team. Holly used her knowledge to encourage girls around her to play futsal, a game unknown to a lot of people due to football’s overwhelming popularity. The University of Hertfordshire women’s team is currently winning their league, on the road to win the Cup and are playing in the FA futsal cup semis in March. The results and progress the club has seen since its birth not even two years ago are too good to be ignored; but for Holly it is time to leave the UK and be part of futsal development in Stellenbosch.

Picturetaken by Sarah Hinds

“I want to raise awareness of the sport as well as helping more people lead a more active and healthy lifestyle. When I am out there, I also hope to improve community cohesion through sport opportunities”, explains Holly Hinds when asked what she hopes to achieve during her year out.

Nora Dooley works for Coaches across Continent (CAC); the charity that has teamed up with training4changeS to enable them to get support and funding. CAC focuses on local issues such as female empowerment, gender equity and conflict prevention; they have instated social projects all across Africa such as “Chance to Choice” and “Ask for Choice” and are said to have directly positively impacted 388,576 children in 2015 only. Nora has worked at the Stellenbosch school and explains how she would not change anything about the hectic way of life volunteering in development makes you live. Nora, like Holly was working with women: “The girls and women we work with have never been given the attention we give them, we help them feel empowered and listened to”.

Picture taken by training for changes

Focusing on the women in an attempt to give South African women sporting role models. “This organisation creates opportunities and platforms for us to be able to influence girls in a way they wouldn’t have been influenced otherwise”, says Rancia Young, assistant project coordinator and coach. The project yearns to form women role model might it be as coaches but also academically, in hope to see more women attend university and find jobs in the city to provide a better lifestyle for the future generation. Scholarships are available for the best players and students, giving them hope to one day be able to play on a proper futsal pitch and become someone they never thought they could be.

With just over two months left in the UK, Holly feels nervous but does not regret her decision: “Anybody that has the desire to make a change, should take the step of faith and go for it, if only for the experience, being scared is normal”. Holly is preparing and fundraising as much as she can to be able to make an impact whist being there such buying a football kit for every girl she will look after.

If you like what Holly is doing and would like to help her out, check her Go Get Funding page at :

#futsal #southAfrica #Sports #WorkExperience

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