This week we continue with our series on “Introducing our Coaches” with the story of PPI-SA veteran Sfiso “Knees of Thunder” Mthembu. His story is the true epitome of not allowing your surroundings dictate the course of your life. We are so proud of Sfiso, and hope you can gain a positive life lesson from his story.
My name is Sifiso Mthembu, I’m 29 year old. I grew up in Richards Bay Skhawini and now stay in Molweni, Durban. In 1998, a life changing experience happened to me. I was hanging around the wrong group of people, who would steal anything they could get their hands on. One night, we stole my grandfathers car, and we were in a serious car accident which left me in a wheelchair for 6 months. I remember that day clearly, the doctor told I could not run or play sports ever again. I was in a wheelchair for 6 months, and took medication everyday.
In 2003, I moved to Molweni to live with my mom. I was on treatment, and every time I tried play soccer I would feel pain around my hips, so I stopped. One day, my neighbour Dallas, invited me to come watch him coach basketball. It was my first time seeing this sport, and what stood out to me was that the court is smaller than a soccer pitch. At that moment, I told myself I could DO IT. Then I tried playing, it was very painful in the beginning, until I got used to the pain, and a few months later, the pain stopped. I continued playing all throughout my high school years, and when I completed my matric/ Grade 12, I decided to apply to be a PPI-SA coach and give back to my community.
I have been with PPI-SA since 2008, making my way up the ranks. From being a participate, to coaching and now being Area-cordinator for Umlazi. For approximately 5 years, I have also been coordinating and managing an independent basketball programme in Molweni, and that really taught me a lot about myself, and I learnt persistence and hard work.
The most memorable opportunity I was given at PPI SA was going to USA for an exchange program and to Turkey for a Junior Morals Program basketball camp. It is here, where I had to learnt to coach in Turkish, Serian and English, with the help of translator. I had a strong bond with the kids and they called me “coach Sufuso” and took thousands of selfies with me .They were thankful and inspired.
When I look back and think about that moment in the hospital with the doctor, and if someone told me I would one day travel to the States or Turkey, I would have not believed them. That it why I will forever be grateful for what PPI-SA and Dallas did for me that day I went to watch that practice. Something inside me sparked again, even though the odds were against me, I believed in myself again. I am now a different person, from that naughty boy in Skhawini, to a leader, a youth developer, a community leader and driven to do even more great things for myself and my community.