This month, PPI-SA welcomes Debby van der Heever as the new operations manager. Debby brings a wealth of professional experience and knowledge to PPI-SA and has an infectious enthusiasm and love for basketball and helping young people. Get to know Debby below!
How will being a former teacher help you with your new position?
As a former teacher I think I have a deep insight into the pressures and obstacles facing teenagers in South Africa. I have built up relationships with many of my students over the years who have sought help from me in having to deal with many difficult circumstances and am still in contact with some of them 7 years later.
Being an organized and highly motivated person who always strives for excellence I aimed to instill these values through a good work ethic with my students.
Describe the impact basketball has had on your life.
For many years I played competitive tennis. One day in late 1979 my brother who played at the University of Natal invited me to play as their girl’s team was short of players and they did not want to default the game as they were top of the league. The following week I gave up playing tennis and was registered as a basketball player. Five months later I made the Natal Provincial team. In February of 1980 I met my knight in shining armor on the basketball court who became my husband in 1984 (Marcel van der Heever- new managing director of PPI-SA!) I THINK BASKETBALL HAS HAD A HUGE IMPACT ON MY LIFE!
What are you most excited about? (Joining PPI)
To be able to touch and make a difference in a young person’s life through basketball (I will still be teaching but through basketball) – MY DREAM CAREER!!!
What is your favorite PPI experience so far?
By far the Bridges of Hope training – I got to meet the PPI SA Family – what a wonderful bunch of young people. I was inspired by their courage and determination to continue persevering even though many face hardships and significant obstacles in their lives. My impression is that they give unselfishly and are determined to make a difference in whatever they do.
Why do you think basketball can create friendships and bring children together?
Sport is an integral part of young a person’s life. As a baseball and softball Provincial coach and National Basketball coach I have had the opportunity to bond with my players in a different environment to teaching. To be able to lead them towards a healthier and more holistic approach to life is a privilege that I cannot put into words. The many memories and experiences I continue to share with my players on and off the sports field have created bonds that can never be broken and are invaluable in my life. These experiences comprise an integral part of the person I am and the person I have become.
My favorite quotation by Unknown:
“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, And touches a heart!”