One of the goals of PPI – South Africa’s Leadership Development Program, which serves young people between the ages 14 and 18, is to train participants to serve and assist their respective communities. Recently, many of our areas decided the best way to do this would be by hosting a two hour clinic at our community court in Lamontville for PPI – SA’s younger players, members of the Primary School program, which serves children as young as 10 years old.
On a gray Friday afternoon, 14 LDP players became coaches for a day. Under the guidance of our regular coaches, the players ran their clinic without a hitch, as 100 Primary School children rotated up and down the court through three stations, featuring shooting, defense, and passing. The day ended with a raucous, four-team game of “Pass Forward”, which ended with every squad in a four way tie.
Afterward, the LDP players said they were surprised at just how hard it was to coach the youth. The most frustrating part was that they couldn’t understand why players didn’t always immediately process seemingly obvious instructions. One player said, “I learned that I could not just say, ‘Do this. Stand there and move.’ When explaining shooting, I had to demonstrate BEEF (Balance, Eyes, Elbow, Follow-through) for the younger kids to understand me. I had no idea the patience a coach has to have.”
Music to our ears! Not only did the LDP team win points for a successful community service project – they planned the entire event on their own, from transportation logistics to drills to overall structure and design – they also learned how to teach effectively, to be patient yet energetic, as they taught the basics of basketball. I couldn’t help but smile as I saw our young leaders positioning players’ hands in the right defensive or shooting position, or stressing the points that we continually stress in our own practices, like always saying the names of players before passing to them.
Our LDP players gained courage and confidence in their own ability to play as they taught their younger counterparts. They also grabbed the attention of the community, as residents peered outside their homes to the quite unusual sight of some 100 players playing organized basketball. Furthermore, we introduced our youngest children to the next step in the PPI-SA program. We hope that after graduating Grade 8, these players will also join the LDP, leaving it teeming with leaders like our current LDP.