PPI-SA Introducing Our Coaches: Thandekile “TT” Thusi

Coach TT in action

This weeks blog is written by PPI-SA coach Thandekile “TT” Thusi. TT has been with PPI-SA as a participant and now coach for over 10 years. She has gone through so much and has risen above all the tribulations in her life. TT is the epitome of strong young woman in sport that are doing amazing work in the communities.

Being a part of PeacePlayers International South Africa (PPI-SA) has changed my life for the better. I never thought I would see my dreams come true. My journey with PPI-SA started back in 2006, when I was in grade four at Khuthala Primary School in Umlazi L-Section. I had no idea basketball existed, until one day, when I was walking home from school and I noticed a few of the older boys in my community bouncing a basketball heading towards Cwebezela Primary School. I was so fascinated; I followed them to see what they were going to do. That day, I watched their whole practice, and saw how they were having so much fun…I also had fun watching them. From that day, I would watch every single practice.

It was Coach Mhligo, who later invited me to practice with the younger children in 2007. I quickly learnt the sport as I was eager to learn every practice, and wanted to have fun like those boys I saw in 2006. Back then, I also had a temper, and had a really bad attitude towards my family and friends. Basketball helped me to learn respect, discipline and to fix my attitude. I became a happier child, and I respected my teachers and parents. I respected and valued my coach so much, because of the impact he had on my life. It made me desire to be a coach one day.

A few years later, my parents moved my family and I to another area in Umlazi (F-Section), far away from where I was playing basketball in high school. The move was tough for me because that meant I would no longer play basketball, I had to make new friends and start a new life. From there my decision making got worse; I started to hang out with a gang, to fit in. I smoked drugs, got into fights at school, bunking school and eventually not going to school at all. The gang I was part of was dangerous and was known for having a rivalry with another gang. The violence between the gangs became worse and worse, where our families were now in danger too. The police also knew all our names, and were looking for us. It was then my parents decided to move us again. We moved back to Umlazi L-Section, and I never saw my gang friends ever again.

From right, Coach TT at the 25th City Wide Tournament and PPI-SA participants.

When we moved back to Umlazi, I was in a bad space with my family. They did not trust me anymore, and I had to earn their respect and trust again. I decided to do a self-introspection. I tried to remember that respectful happy girl who played basketball. I joined basketball again, and had a new coach, coach Ntobeko. He gave me a chance to prove myself. I finished high school, and applied to be a coach at PPI-SA. Things starting falling into place even more. I never thought I would study further, and now I am in my second year of studies towards a Diploma in Public Management at Mangosuthu University of Technology.

I am always getting opportunities, through PPI-SA, to learn more as a coach and community leader. This past week, I attended the Premier Skills Coaching Camp, where I met so many other coaches from around South Africa. We learnt so much from each other because we were all sharing ideas, coaching styles and weaknesses. I can’t wait for the second level of the training.

Some of the PPI-SA coaches who attended the Premier Skills Coaching Camp.



PPI-SA Introducing Our Coaches: Sfiso “Knees of Thunder” Mthembu

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.

Sfiso receiving his certificate of completion of the basketball coaching camp in the states from Kelli Davis from US Department State.


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.

Sfiso ( holding basketball) in action.

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.

PPI-SA Area-coordinators 2017.

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.


PPI-SA – Introducing Our Coaches: Thobani Ngubane

Last week we heard from Thando Msweli, our very own “selfie queen”, Laureus YES Expert and area-cordinator. But we thought you should have the opportunity to meet ALL our coaches, so the series  is making a comeback. Every week you will hear from another one of our 22 amazing coaches. Today, we hear from one of the newest additions to PPI-SA’s coaching staff – Thobani Ngubane. Thobani was also a part of the Laureus YES Programme, which is a great achievement for a first year coach. Thobani is also a past LDP participant.  His an outgoing bright young man, who is making noise in Durban, and in his community. Here’s his story about how he joined PPI-SA and his reflections on the Laureus YES Camp.

Thobani having breakfast with Laureus Ambassador Deshun and Merecedes Benz Manager Margaret.

My name is Thobani Ngubane and I am 21 years old. I was born and raised in uMlazi L- Section . Last year, I matriculated from Vukuzakhe High School and I also played for the Umlazi West Community Team.  In 2013, for the first time, I was introduced to PPI-SA, by my friend who invited me to a practice. I never stopped playing after that day.

Thobani (far left) at last years City Wide Tournament.

It was my coaches TT & Janda who really made an impact on me to decide to apply to be a coach at PPI-SA this year. I was already volunteering in other sports at my high school, such as netball and cricket. So when the opportunity came for me to join PPI-SA again this without having to be a participant I was so excited. What I love the most about  being a coach is working with the kids and empowering them with life skills that can help them make social change in their school and community. I know how my coaches helped me change my life and become a better person, and now I want to do the same for others.

The Laureus YES Camp was such a surprise to me. I did not know what to expect. But, I don’t regret applying, because I learnt so much about myself. I met other young leaders from across South Africa, which was great. After I left the camp, I learnt something very important. Resilience. I came out stronger and knowing myself more. Another highlight was going on the Cape Wheel at the V& A Waterfront. The views of Cape Town were beautiful and I will always cherish that moment.

PPI-SA Area Coordinator,Coach Thando, Talks Laureus YES 2017

Thando doing what she’s best know for on Chapman’s Peak

This weeks blog features an interview on Thando Msweli, one of the most experienced coaches at PPI-SA. Famously known as the “selfie queen”, Thando is having a great year so far. She just returned from the week long Laureus Youth Empowerment (YES) Programme Camp that was held in Cape Town this past week. Below she shares with us her experience at the camp as a Laureus YES Expert.

When did you first join the Laureus YES programme?

I joined the Laureus Yes programme in 2014 as a protégé. I didn’t know much about Laureus but little did I know it was going to be one of the greatest things to happen to my life. In 2015 I was invited back to be a pioneer, which encompassed mentoring the protégés and also growing personally through a number of skills development trainings.

The laureus YES Programme equipped me with some of the skills I possess today. It has been a great experience and a great platform to find more opportunities. Finding a new home with people who share similar life goals as you and people who work as hard as you are one of the fulfilments of YES.

What were your expectations going into this year’s camp?

Going into the camp this year I was ready and excited to start yet another chapter with Laureus. I knew I was being given a platform to shine and showcase all that I’ve learnt and gathered throughout the years working with Laureus, my expectations were exceeded. The past week, being with people who have fallen but have risen and use their stories to inspire others, has been amazing.

What was your role at this year’s camp?

At the 2017 Laureus YES camp, I was an Expert, which involved facilitating a few sessions for the protégés, mentoring and finding my own personal journey. I would facilitate small group sessions with protégés which encompassed us mentoring, listening and guiding them throughout the entire training. We were like their team leaders, people they could look up too and talk too on a professional or personal level. We are a family above all.

Thando and a few leaders sharing a moment with Laureus SA Chairman and Laureus Global Academy member, Morne du Plessis.

What have you learnt about yourself as well as a leader in your own right, at this year’s camp?

The programme has had such a positive impact in my life within the sporting arena and outside sport. It has taught me to have a growth mind-set, always thinking forward and positively. The trust and support from the programme has made me more confident in myself and has made me a go-getter. It has taught me to grab all opportunities and run with them because I have the power to do anything I put my mind and heart into.

Thando facilitating a workshop.

What can you take back with you that you can use in your role as AC?

Through all the trainings that I’ve done with Laureus, they are all relevant for my everyday life including the AC role I am currently in. it has taught me that we all have different opinions and views and it’s always essential that you respect another’s views. It has taught me better communication, to express myself confidently in the right, proper manner, seeing that I am the mode of communication between staff and coaches. It has also played a role in how I critically and logically address situations faced with in the work space. Overall the level of confidence I have gained throughout this experience is definitely something I’d want to share with my coaches. Lastly branding myself, it is essentially that you are aware of how you brand yourself as a person, as a leader and as a role model.

We are so proud of Thando, and the way she represented PPI-SA. Whats more, Thando has been invited to attend the upcoming United Nations Sport for Development Youth Camp in Sweden. She is going to be attending as a member of the elite Alumni that were invited.

PPI-SA Programming Is Underway

Today’s blog is written by PPI-SA Marketing and Fundraising Manager Sbahle Mkhize about kicking off 2017 programming!


We are three weeks into try outs and the participants have been in full attendance. The aim of the try outs is for the coaches to select the 24 boys and girls that will be participating in the programme for 2017. It’s no easy task as the coaches have to select 24 children out of 50 plus children. With the assistance of the school representative, the coaches select their team.

This year sees a new addition to the PPI-SA family. Gardenia Primary School in Austerville have joined the programme this year. The partnership makes sense because the school was looking for innovative ways to provide their learners with quality sport activities at the lowest costs for parents. We are so excited for this partnership and look forward to seeing the children benefit from our programme.

PPI-SA 2017 Coaches

PPI-SA 2017 Coaches

Furthermore, a number of schools from last year, are still a part of our programme. Including LIV Village, Glenmore Primary School, and the reigning champions Cwebezela Primary School. In total we have 21 teams/schools in our programme this year.

Events and games are set to start on the 15th of March among schools. This years calendar is jam packed with exciting events ahead, so look out for more blogs, pictures and posts from PPI-SA soon!

Senior Fellow Sarah Frazier Reflects on Her Trip to Norway with Lead4Peace

Sarah with Nomfundo, Ayanda, Thetha and Meagan in the snow.

Sarah with Nomfundo, Ayanda, Thetha and Meagan in the snow.

Today’s blog is written by Senior International Fellow, Sarah Frazier, who recently traveled to Norway with four PPI-SA LDP Participants for the Lead4Peace Leadership Camp. She shares about her time in Norway attending the camp.

What a way to start of the year! This past week I traveled to Norway with four PPI-SA participants for the Erasmus+ Lead4Peace Camp. I am no stranger to travel, but I must say, this trip stands out as one of my favorites.This was a highly anticipated trip, for the participants ( Nomfundo, Ayanda, Meagan and Thetha) because they were going to be reunited with friends they met in Cyprus, during phase one of the Erasmus+ LeadPeace Camp last year. A huge thank you to Nesodden IF Basket club and the community who raised money to cover costs that allowed me and the participants to take part!

It was so great to watch the PPI-SA participants reunited with their friends from other PPI sites, as well as seeing them experiencing the snow and activities like dog sledding for the first time. Another highlight was seeing how close the participants became with their host families. This is what made this camp really unique and memorable. Now, the participants can say they have another family in Norway.

The participants also got to give presentations to groups of students about South African culture, history, and what it is like to be a young person growing up in South Africa.  It was a great opportunity for our participants to share information about South Africa, their culture, language, and represent themselves, their communities, KZN, and the Republic of South Africa as a whole.

PPI-SA participants making their presentation about South Africa.

PPI-SA participants making their presentation about South Africa.

To end,on behalf of PPI-SA, the participants and their parents, I really want to thank the Nesodden IF Basket club, parents and community for EVERYTHING! This trip would have not been possible without you all.



PeacePlayers Jet Off to Norway to build Bridges

This weeks blog includes a insert from The Mercury newspaper written about four PPI-SA participants who traveled to Norway on the 9th of February 2017 and will return on the 16 February 2016. The Mercury newspaper is Durban’s morning newspaper, providing coverage of local, South African and international news and sport. This article was written by Given Majola.

FOUR Durban teenage basketball players will rub shoulders with 60 of their global counterparts as part of the PeacePlayers South Africa basketball programme in Norway, starting today.

(From left to right) Meagan, Thetha, Ayanda & Nomfundo.

Durban teenagers Meegan Montiere, Thetha Nxumalo, Ayanda Dlamini and Nomfundo Ngcobo showed off their basketball talent yesterday before flying to Norway for the Lead For Peace Camp, where they will share their leadership skills with teenagers from around the world.Ayanda Dlamini,14, Meegan Montiere, 15, Nomfundo Ngcobo, 18, and Thetha Nxumalo, 18, flew to Norway last night where they will attend the Lead for Peace Camp that runs until February 16.

Peace Players South Africa Marketing and Fund-raising manager Sbahle Mkhize said the players had made their mark during the programme, which was started 16 years ago to bridge the divide between Durban communities.

“We saw there was a need for our young people from different communities of townships, suburbs and more rural areas to be brought together through sports to learn, have fun and make new friends.


“The most important thing is to give them aspirations that there can be something beyond the communities they come from, where there are drugs, alcohol abuse and violence,” Mkhize said.

“We create safe spaces where the children can grow and become leaders in their communities.”

Mkhize said the programme had developed relationships with schools across the city where they introduce the sport and provide equipment and coaches, and life and leadership skills.

“They are taught discipline, respect, teamwork and communication skills,” she said.

Mkhize said the four players had traveled to Cyprus last year and would now be showcasing their leadership skills in Norway.

Ayanda, who attends Ogwini Comprehensive High School in Umlazi, said she had gained valuable life experience on the programme.

“It has helped me understand others from different backgrounds and their cultures. I look forward to being exposed to the lives of others in Norway,” she said.

Meegan, of Wentworth, who attends Aquadene Secondary School in Richards Bay, said the programme had helped her lead her peers.

“I look forward to finishing school and playing basketball,” Montiere said.

Ngcobo, who attends Mowat Park High School in Montclair, said the programme had exposed her to many new opportunities.

She said: “Going to Norway, I look forward to meeting others I do not know, as opposed to just hearing about them.”

Nxumalo, of Lamontville, said the trip would be a learning experience. “This teaches one to live with those from different backgrounds and come up with solutions to common problems,” he said.