Archive for April 2010


Richard learning a new skill

The CNN crew were an absolute pleasure to accommodate. They never shyed away from getting ‘down and dirty’, and made the Valleys boys feel at ease with their laid back attitude but very professional approach. They were taken by the beauty of Nagle Dam and the surrounding rural area. I thought one day of filming would be difficult to capture everything about my Academy, however viewing some of the footage that evening, they seemed to have captured it just right.

5am – An early Saturday morning start, we ventured over to Thomas’s home to wake him and get some raw footage of a day in the life of a’Change a life’ Academy athlete.

A very real and impromptu opening to the show, as Thomas scrabbles under his bed in the dark to find his training kit and Hi-Tecs. Heading to the dam, we shoot more of my guys strolling casually (as normal) to the dam, bantering and laughing all the way.

Some paddling and running shots, a few interviews and handing out of their monthly USN sports supplements and weekly foodpacks, then delivered to their families. A full days work, with a total of 3 1/2hrs of filming, which will be edited into a 7min show and broadcast around the World – Exciting stuff.

It is interesting that my three top ‘Change a Life’ guys – Lucas, Thomas and Erice, are uplifting their own lives and their families, by building houses in the valley. Eric brags that his house is the biggest and fanciest, “4 rooms Mart and it has a toilet inside”. These three youngsters have managed to afford these homes through their racing- winning prize money and getting incentives. One forgets the harsh living conditions these folk endure. I ask Thomas, “where is the basin”? He looks at me and frowns, “Mart, we have no running water in this whole area, the pipes have been broken for 6 years now”. His Mother and Sister cart a 25l drum of water on their heads from far down the hill with grace and ease – no complaints, because this is Life, deal with it .

Thomas’s house -3 rooms, R35 000

There’s a big buzz at Nagle Dam as athletes are arriving in preparation for SA Sprint Champs this weekend. Many of the big guns will be racing as well as a large contingent of development paddlers from around the country.

I delivered a trailer of Lotto boats to the Dihlabeng Slalom Club in Bethlehem

I went up to the Dilhabeng Canoe Club in Bethlehem last week to deliver some new Lotto boats and I am excited to the paddling potential of these athletes improve as they receive real support. This is where South Africa’s Olympians for Slalom, Master Cele and Cyprian Ngidi live and train. At the end of the month they are off to France for a 3 month training camp. For the last two months, “Change a Life” athlete Nkosi Cele has been shadowing these two paddlers, and now will take over coaching at this club. An exciting opportunity to earn a salary for the first time in his life.

 “Change a Life” athlete, Nkosi (left), with Olympians, Master & Cyprian

 Kids giving their all – In Slalom you only use a one bladed paddle

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