Nemato Change a Life (NCAL) participated with four teams at a long distance rowing competition in the Durban harbour.
The boys received silver and bronze out of 25 participating teams, and NCAL founder Jan Blom said a big “Well done guys”.
The group also did a little sightseeing, with visits to the Moses Mabhida Stadium and the beach.
Blom said NCAL has a strong rowing team this year. On the ergometers seven new club bests were recorded.
Siphosethu Nazo improved the seven strokes in the U15 age group, Thando Ngoqo improved the 2 000m, 5 000m and one-hour in U16 and Mzwebhongo Mbendeni improved the seven strokes, 2 000m and 5 000m in the U19.
For the first time in its ten years the rowing club is now able to transport its own boats to competitions. After the donation last year of the Quantum minibus by the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust and Alexander van Assendelft, the Eastern Cape Rowing Association (ECRA) recently gave the club the use of their small boat trailer.
“We must thank all the clubs that always tried to help us with space on their boat trailers or allowing us to use their boats at the competitions,” said Blom. “But what a pleasure to have our own boats at the competitions. No more competing in boats we are not used to, or missing a race because nobody could help us with a boat. Many thanks to ECRA for helping us with the trailer. It will lift our club to the next level.”
The second Eastern Cape Gymnastics Trials were highly successful for NCAL. Senior gymnast Siphamandla Baku was the only gymnast to jump a triffis mount (triple front flip with half turn) on the double mini trampoline.
Onke Mangele, in the age group 15/16, finished an incredibly difficult trampoline routine starting with a triffis.
“Nobody in the province, not even the seniors, come anywhere close to his [level of] difficulty,” said Blom.
“Liyema Nxobo, with lower difficulty but high precision and no mistakes, won the trampoline and the double mini trampoline, showing his readiness for international competition. Siyabulela Siwa (13/14) and Khanyile Mbolekwa (11/12) are far ahead in their age groups in the province. Our gymnasts who are not at international level also did well and we expect most of them to qualify for national championships.”
Mangele became African Junior Champion on the double mini trampoline in Namibia. It was the first time NCAL members went to a continental championships and they are very proud to have an African Champion at the gymnastics club.
Mangele also won the gold team medal on double mini trampoline and the bronze team medal on trampoline.
Siwa, who replaced injured Nxobo on trampoline, made it all the way to a sixth place in the finals and also won the bronze team medal on trampoline. Baku participated on as senior on the double mini trampoline.
The Eastern Cape Academy of Sport (ECAS) offered NCAL gymnasts a training camp in Port Elizabeth to prepare for the upcoming national championships and international competitions.
“We went with 12 gymnasts,” explained Blom. “Injuries and the pressure of top level gymnastics are taking toll on some of our gymnasts, but we are hoping to come back with some medals from the top competitions. Many thanks to ECAS for making this camp possible.”
Blom said the successes of the gymnastics club are achieved under very poor conditions.
“We have no gymnastics hall, no double mini trampoline, no tumbling track and no coach. All we have is a great trampoline donated by the Lotto and help from international top coach Lee Budler in Port Elizabeth.
“If the gymnasts can achieve so much, what will happen if we can offer good facilities? Gideon Sam, the president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), has recognised the potential of our club and is committed to helping us with a gymnastics centre. Our local municipality has allocated land for it and we are working on the preparation of the land, before building can start. We are also hoping to be able to employ Lee as the head coach of the gymnastics centre.”
The handball club went to a tournament in Alice at the University of Fort Hare, the institution where Mandela studied. The event, called the Ekasi Tournament, was organised by the university and had a wide range of different sports.
“It was the first time we played in this event and we played against the University of Fort Hare and Fort Beaufort City,” said Blom. “Our team had told themselves at the training sessions they were not training hard to lose. It went very well and especially in the second match, the team was unstoppable. For the first time ever our handball team won a tournament”
Six weeks later there was another handball tournament at Fort Hare. The club went with its strong boys team, that is a mix of handball players who are in our youth empowerment programme and some experienced players from outside who have joined the team.
“The team has become fast and furious and hard to beat. They won their second tournament in a row,” said a proud Blom.
For the first time in a long time the club also fielded a girls team, eight committed but inexperienced members. Still lacking fire power to impress, Blom said it was great to have girls competing. They also had a training session by coach Masande Ntete. Blom said that time and practice will bring them success.
Triple bad luck for our handball player and coach Lifa Nxobo. He had three opportunities to travel overseas and all failed. For the first trip, to a top tournament in Italy, his passport was ready too late. For his trip to Germany – an exchange programme between the Eastern Cape and Lower Saxony – everything was ready, including his visa, but it was cancelled at the last minute, apparently because it wasn’t signed off by the Premier. Stolen money for the flights to a tournament in Cameroon landed the thief in jail and left the handball team stranded at the airport in Joburg.
Together with the other local fencing club, Ingubo, the members travelled to Port Elizabeth for a fencing competition and the annual general meeting of the Eastern Cape Fencing Association.
Thulani Ngogela was the club’s strongest fencer, and won his age group by a large margin. To make the club’s programme stronger it facilitates programmes from organisations that are specialised in fields such as literacy.
“We work together with other youth organisations, benefiting from each other’s strengths,” Blom explained. “To make the best use of our capacity, we manage the office administration of organisations like the ECD Support Group, the Eastern Cape Fencing Association and the Matinyana Bursary Fund.”