Last month, senior PPI-SA coach Yamkela “Yam” Nako attended United Nations Sport For Development and Peace Youth Leadership Camp held in Berlin, Germany. Coach Yam details his experience below:
My name is Yamkela Nako, and the following blog details an event that took place abroad. I went to represent PeacePlayers International-South Africa as a youth basketball coach in the United Nations Sport For Development and Peace Youth Leadership Camp held in Berlin, Germany. The camp primarily focused on gathering young sport leaders across the world, developing them further as leaders and sharing best practices amongst one another.
Participants came from all over the world, including South Africa, Gambia, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Palestine, India, Poland and Tanzania. In total, 35 participants representing different organisations and youth sport organisers who work with children in developing areas attended, each one of them a young leader who uses sport as a tool to help develop youth.
A variety of sport organisations such as Badminton, Table Tennis, Alba Berlin wheelchair Basketball, The Football Association and Box Girls International were invited to the camp to teach and test us on our knowledge of sport development. Each organisation representing different sport codes shared some of their past successes, took part in theory work on how to improve their communities in a classroom and participated in practical workshops. All activities were designed to equip us on becoming a growth minded leader, and how we can use our knowledge to improve our organizations, communities and countries. The greatest lesson I picked up during my time in Berlin was learning how to have and establish a growth mind-set in my life. In other words the ability to listen to and accept feedback, as well as the belief that skills can be learned and gained through hard work. A mindset such as this enables you to constantly grow and improve as a person and leader.
In addition to all the learning that took place, I’ll never forget the friends I made from around the world, learning how to speak Arabic, and meeting and sharing facilities with the German national sport athletes from volleyball to Paralympians. The new experiences didn’t stop there! I ate at a Turkish restaurant — where we tried deer and other interesting dishes I had never tired before — tried the infamous German beer, and took a full tour of Berlin, learning about the history of this beautiful city and country. However, perhaps the coolest experience of all was witnessing Alba Berlin face Phoenix for mymy first-ever live professional basketball game. This was the same Alba Berlin team that beat the San Antonio Spurs on their European tour a few years back. As I reflect back on the trip, I can’t wait to bring back what I learned to PPI and the communities in which we work.