Founder of Dundee Development Athletics Club, Sibonelo Khulu, is making a difference in the lives of the youth in northern KwaZulu-Natal as he empowers them to achieve their sporting dreams.

In 2011, the ASA Level 2 accredited coach founded the club to keep children off the street, admitting that it was disturbing to see the youth fall into the social-ills trap in the Sithembile location.

To date, the club boasts 20 athletes which include three rising female stars who Khulu is grooming for the future.

With a growing club, Khulu’s challenges are increasing as he looks to acquire funding to provide the necessary equipment and resources to ensure that every athlete has the opportunity to reach their level best.

Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Khulu reveals what keeps him motivated to invest in the future of the youth and aspirations to develop Dundee Development Athletics Club into an academy.

Sibonelo, thank you for taking time out to chat! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am Sibonelo Khulu, an ASA Level 2 Coach in Middle, Long and Walk distances, founder of Dundee Development AC, a former teacher and a current Public Relations Manager for Asikhule Holdings.

Please tell us about Dundee Development Athletics Club and why you founded it.

Dundee Development AC is a club from Dundee, South Africa, northern part of the rural areas of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. It has a membership of 20 athletes for year 2021. We are an affiliate of KwaZulu-Natal Athletics and have children as young as 7-years-old to juniors and seniors.

The club focusses on the following athletics disciplines: Track and Field, Cross-Country, Road Running and Walk.

“I was touched and felt disturbed about the rate of socials-ills young people where engaging themselves in from Sithembile location.” – Founder of Dundee Development Athletics Club

The club was founded in 2011 when I was touched and felt disturbed about the rate of socials-ills young people where engaging themselves in from Sithembile location – a township from Glencoe Town which is 13km away from Dundee CBC – among them were: substance abuse, loitering, teenage pregnancy, crime and the rate of school dropouts.

What have been some of the challenges you have faced over the years to keep the club up and running?

Funding has been the most challenging experience for me to keep the club running, this has further affected the club’s daily operations in terms of providing very important needs and resources for the athletes.

One of the most important things is training material such as running shoes (takkies), training equipment like starting blocks for sprints, cones, whistles, high-jump mats, measuring tapes and buying of club kits as we have our own colours that promotes the club as a brand to people out there.

The club has all necessary requirements to qualify for funding such as constitution, banking details and all related policies.

In what ways have you been supported by the community?

The Endumemi Municipality has been supporting us with training facilities and they keep it in good condition. Also, the Department of Sport and Recreation has helped us with transport when we needed it for provincial championships.

We are currently supported by one of the local retail stores called PopIn Butchery and Supermarket.

What is it like trying to run the club during Covid-19 times?

“Athletes come from very poor backgrounds and some are living in crowded homes, which concerns me about safety.” – Khulu speaks on the challenges faced with athletes during Covid-19 times.

We are currently lacking Covid-19 prevention resources like enough sanitizers and masks, there is no screening of athletes as well, since we don’t have the screening resources. Athletes come from very poor backgrounds and some are living in crowded homes, which concerns me about safety.

What are your plans to ensure that the club rises above to help the kids in your area achieve their sporting dreams?

To get more support from private and public institutions with regards to funding and resources because an athletics club’s success depends on funding and availability of resources. I want to have all necessary equipment and resources for every athlete to use for training so that kids will have a chance to use their talents to their level best and full capacity.

As you are aware that gsport4girls is an all-women sport initiative that aims to shine the spotlight on women and young girls who are making an impact in communities. How many female athletes do you have at the club and are there any names that we should be on the lookout for?

The club has three female athletes for now, namely: Asandiswa Ndlamlenze, Winnie Lungu and Malwande Kunene.

What keeps you motivated to continue investing in the lives of the youth?

Determination from the kids is one of the things that keeps me motivated. These kids are very passionate about what they are doing. They believe in me as their coach and they always try to their level best despite the above mentioned challenges. Discipline from them is adding more value in what I am doing with them and achievement of good results is the cherry on top because they get selected to represent the province at national championships.

What is your advice to young sports kids out there who are looking to cement their places on a national platform but are facing challenges of not getting ample opportunities at community level?

They must never lose hope but keep on pushing because one day their dreams will ultimately come true. This will make them understand that sometimes in life you have to be against all odds to be victorious. They must take available opportunities and use them to advance their future because the sport department is offering scholarships and bursaries for those who perform well in sporting activities regardless of how they perform academically.

What position would you like to see Dundee Development Athletics Club in the next five years?

I would like to see DDAC having almost all the equipment and resources that it lacks currently. Funding is the key in the future of the club because it will enable the club to expand its programmes even to other communities in the nearby areas of Dundee.

I want to see the club becoming an Athletics Academy whereby it will have all kinds of athletes, especially field events athletes. I want to see the club have more than five qualified coaches and more than ten qualified Technical Officials so that it can be able to organise its own leagues than travelling 800km to Durban just attend a league which costs R7 000 for transport.

 

Photo 1 Caption: Sibonelo Khulu, is an ASA Level 2 Coach in Middle, Long and Walk distances, founder of Dundee Development AC, a former teacher and a current Public Relations Manager for Asikhule Holdings. Photo: Supplied