The Soweto Canoe Club situated in Orlando is reaching out to the youth and teaching them new skills.
While water sports are not hugely popular in townships, the Soweto Canoe Club is working hard to change this.
Founded in 2003 by ADreach Chief Executive Officer Brad Fisher, the Soweto Canoe club has 72 members, ranging from seven to 22 years old.
Fisher formed the club due to a lack of black Gauteng paddlers.
“Initially, we noticed that there were little to no water sports in the area. We collaborated with Emmarentia-based Dabulamanzi Canoe Club to develop a similar club in Soweto. Our club is different, as it is also a skills development centre, where youth are assisted with their studies and personal growth,” he says.
Coach Nkosi Mzolo, who joined the club in 2006 when he moved from KwaZulu-Natal, says it has done a lot of groundwork to demystify superstitions and overcome traditional beliefs that spirits live in lakes and rivers.
“In townships, there are many negative nuances about large masses of water, so this was the first barrier the club had to overcome. It also helped that we don’t only concentrate on the sport, we also provide academic support, career guidance, shadow employment opportunities and personal development courses,” he adds.
The club encourages members to be independent and successful.
Mzolo was fortunate to be employed as a driver at the club, and received financial support for his emergency management services studies at the City of Johannesburg. He has now qualified as a paramedic and firefighter rescue technician.
“With unemployment a problem in the country, the vast majority of our members are unemployed and depend on social grants. Here they get to acquire a new skill, that may lead to employment, and they receive food parcels.”
The club has produced some of the best paddlers in the country, including Siseko Ntondini, who became the first black South African to achieve a podium finish at the Hansa Fish Canoe Marathon in 2015.
For more information contact the soweto Canoe and Recreational Club on 074 341 6545 or www.scarc.co.za.