Three dedicated community heroes have been shortlisted for a Momentum gsport Award, in the long running gsport Volunteer of the Year category, introduced in 2007, to honour those who selflessly give their time and resources to sport.

2018 gsport Volunteer of the Year, community tennis coach, Mpho Makhoba, continues to give back, and is up again for recognition in this category. She will battle it out with erstwhile Langa Cricket Club administrator, Molefe Talisemo and passionate rural women’s cricket coach, Sandile Lukhele, one of only two men, shortlisted for an award this year.

Lukhele is ecstatic about being a finalist, which comes 12 years after another community sports activitist, and the only male winner in this category, Lunga Ntuli won, back in 2009.

“I feel very honoured and privileged to be a finalist for the Volunteer of the Year award. This is very big and encouraging for me and I don’t take it lightly. In 2019,  more than 15 girls from the schools where I coach, from under 13 to under 19 and the senior women’s team, were able to make the provincial teams in Mpumalanga. This was huge for the girls and myself.

“In 2020 I was featured in a gsport Best Man article, and to this day I am so thankful to the team for changing my life with that feature. gsport has consistently made sure that they put a spotlight on us as coaches and without this platform, many of us and many of the young athletes that we coach would never know how it feels to be celebrated. Thank you to all the brands supporting this great initiative to change lives of thousands, if not millions of people, who play various roles in flying the South African flag high through sport.”

For the past decade, Lukhele has displayed unparalleled consistency in developing girls cricket in Pongola and Piet Retief in Mpumalanga. Cricket in these areas has grown, especially in schools that he coaches in. His efforts of driving more than 60km to training and games are paying off.

2018 gsport Volunteer of the Year, Makhoba, continues to elevate township tennis, year in and year out. Makhoba is the founder of the Atteridgeville and Hammanskraal Tennis Clubs. Opening her second tennis club was met with eagerness from the Hammanskraal community. Despite the pandemic, the club grew from 98 to 204 members.

Makhoba said, “I am very honoured and humbled to be shortlisted for this category. It really brings me down to earth because we do the work on the grassroots level without any expectations. Being recognized at a national level helps in attracting sponsorships and motivating our players. In the past year, we have increased the number of players that participated in provincials from 6-14 players. We have introduced the senior citizens and to see them exercising, being consistent and enjoying tennis means that we are doing a great job. We also introduced beach tennis in Hamanskraal and had two girls that qualified to receive national colors, went on to represent South Africa and came back with a bronze medal.”

On the impact that the Momentum gsport Awards have had on the sporting community, Makhoba expressed gratitude, “The Momentum gsport Awards enhances the love and passion that we have for sport. I would like to say to the gsport team along with all the sponsors that because of them, women are encouraged to perform at their level best. We are encouraged to go out there and do more because we give us the fuel to keep thriving”

Sharing similar sentiments with Makhoba on being driven to do more because of this nomination is the third finalist in the Volunteer of the Year category, Talisemo “Miss T” Molefe. A pioneering and compassionate leader, whose interest is to ensure equality, create a diverse environment and be at the forefront of unearthing cricket talents of tomorrow.

Molefe has spearheaded an administrative change at the Langa Cricket Club and is also championing a much needed change of culture for the players. This is what she had to say about her work and being a finalist for Volunteer of the Year.

“I am so excited and nervous at the same time. I internalize a lot of my excitement, but I am so grateful for the recognition. It has made me reflect on the work we have done and as the first ever-female chairperson of the club, I knew that I have to prioritize understanding of players’ needs, community engagement and improve the girls’ team. I also created a communication and engaging strategy that allowed us to create a team structure that benefits the juniors in the community. With the level of success we have achieved it is easy to overlook the young ones who are still finding the ropes.”

You can catch the latest women’s sport news in the Momentum powered gsport newsroom and register a free membership at the gsport website to cast your vote for your leading woman in sport here.