Today’s blog is written by PPI-SA’s newest member: Sbahle Mkhize. Sbahle joins the team as the Fundraising and Marketing Manager. She previously coached for PPI-SA from 2012-2013 and even during her brief stint away was very involved as a volunteer. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Sbahle to the team.
From a very young age basketball has been a part of my life. One can say my career started in Pelham Senior Primary School, in city called Pietermaritzburg (just 1 hr West of Durban). I was always an active child and always tried to participate in different sports. But it was in grade 5, when the Under-11 basketball coach invited me to try out for the basketball team that I realised my love for the game of basketball. I made the A-team, and from there basketball became a part of me. Throughout Primary school I represented KwaZulu Natal which exposed me to a number of different parts of South Africa and showed me just how big basketball was. From Pelham, I made my way to Pietermaritzburg Girls High School, which had and still does have one of the top ladies basketball teams in South Africa. It didn’t take long for me to flourish. I started playing for the 1st team from grade 10 and eventually became the 1st team captain. My time as a player and captain at PMB Girls High taught me valuable lessons like discipline, leadership and commitment, the same lessons we impart on kids today at PPI.
When it came to deciding what I would study in University, a Bachelor Degree in Sport Science was an obvious choice. I was excited when I got accepted to further my studies at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, Westville, however, very nervous about moving to a city where I only knew a few people. Shortly after the move, I was introduced to Mtu Zulu at a National Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament. He spoke to me about Peace Players International and encouraged me to apply for a coaching job there. I had never been exposed to an organization of this nature in Pietermaritzburg. So, when the opportunity presented itself it didn’t take a long time for me to apply for the job. What I loved about PPI was that it merged the two things I was and still am passionate about –basketball and developing the youth of South Africa.
I joined PPI in 2012 as a coach for Durban Primary School. Coaching, for me, was an amazing platform to apply the conditioning and coaching principles I had learnt while studying and pass on the skills and techniques I had learnt from my coaches and mentors over the years. But most importantly, it was an opportunity to learn! Within a year with PPI I was afforded the opportunity to be a part of the Laureus Youth Empowerment Through Sports Programme and the Coaching for Hope Programme, where I met people from across the planet doing similar work and at the same time gained valuable skills such as project management and an introduction to entrepreneurship.
In 2013, I decided to take a step back from coaching and focus all my attention on completing my Honours Degree in Sport Science and Leisure Sciences. Upon my completion of my Honours, an opportunity to re-join the PPI team revealed itself. I applied for the position for the Marketing and Fundraising Manager and it was successful. I am over ecstatic to join PPI-SA full time!
One can say this is a success story, but, I believe that my story is what PPI is all about. All the coaches training and mentorship I received, and the programmes I was a part of, because of PPI, played a major role in equipping me for me this position. No University textbook or lecture could teach me what the team at PPI did during my time with them. And for that, I am forever grateful.