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.
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.