South African Girls Inspired By Their First Game of Basketball

Coach Thobani gathers his team combined Lamontville and Umlazi female LDP team together before tip-off against New Forest High School

Coach Thobani gathers his combined Lamontville and Umlazi female LDP team together before tip-off against New Forest High School

Last week we took a look into the PPI-SA’s Leadership Development Programme (LDP) and an event the males participated in that pertained to basketball and setting goals for the future. This week PPI-SA International Fellow Bryan Franklin gives us a glimpse into what the female LDP teams have been up to over the last two weeks.

The stage was set. After a grueling pre-season where both our female LDP teams spent the month of August and first two weeks of September practicing, the time had arrived to play their first game. For some of the girls, this would be their first formal basketball game ever.

PPI (in white) takes on New Forest High School

PPI (in white) takes on New Forest High School

It began Friday afternoon with a combined Lamontville and Umlazi team.  Umlazi is the single largest township in South Africa with about 750,000 residents within about 25 kilometers. PPI-SA established a Leadership Development Programme (LDP) in these areas to give students grades 8 through 12 (ages 14-18) more in-depth basketball and life skills training so that they may become positive leaders and role models within their communities.

As the taxi wound through Umlazi, making pick-ups at three different high schools before stopping in Lamontville to grab the remainder of the girls (who themselves had gathered from 4 different schools), a unique energy filled the taxi. It was a energy unseen in the LDP over the last few years. An energy and a bond over all these faces coming together to represent PPI-SA. In fact, the moment I saw these girls step out of the taxi at New Forest High School, interacting as one team and not 14 girls from different parts of two communities, I knew that we had already won.

As for the game itself, it was a hard fought battle. PPI was up early and often taking a 9-6 halftime lead. As the game wore on however, an experienced New Forest team refused to go away. With a little less than one minute left, New Forest went ahead 14-12, and did not relinquish the lead, hanging on to the win by two.

The fun didn’t stop there. The following Tuesday, PPI’s Wentworth female LDP had their first game at Grosvenor Girls High School. Unlike the Lamontvile, and Umlazi teams, this is the first time a female LDP team has been active in Wentworth. In fact for 5 of the 7 participants, this was their first formal game.

The effort and passion was there throughout the game for the PPI team, unfortunately as was the inexperience. PPI lost in what ended up being a less lopsided battle than the score suggested, 20-4. As the team huddled up after the game however,

Coach Yamkela, and the Wentworth female LDP team pose for a picture with Grosvenor Girls High School after the game

Coach Yamkella (far right), and the Wentworth female LDP team pose for a picture with Grosvenor Girls High School after the game

we were reminded once again that victories come in more forms than one. The questions came out at a rapid fire pace:

“Coach, can we have extra practices?”

“Coach, I need to get into better shape, can you help me with that?”

Coach Yamkella had this to say about the game:

 “It was a great start for my basketball players, who never had a chance to play before. Playing against Grosvoner opened up a great opportunity for them and for me. It showed us where improvement is needed and motivated us to keep moving forward.”

Needless to say, the last two weeks have been an exciting time for LDP. The benefits of these games went beyond just the basketball played. It presented an amazing opportunity for all PPI participants to meet and interact with girls from different backgrounds. Check in on our Facebook page this Saturday, as all of our boys and girls LDP teams gather for an Extravaganza.

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