My love story with sports began in 1995 during the Rugby World Cup. I was sitting with my family in the TV room watching the final, the Springboks vs the All Blacks. Now I must admit that I don’t remember the whole game but I do remember shouting with my family at the TV for Joel Stransky to score. Little did I know that moment would stay with me forever.
A few years later I began playing hockey in grade 1 and I was hooked; I continued playing throughout High School.
The next great sporting moment I remember experiencing was in High School while watching the 2007 Cricket World Cup, when Herschelle Gibbs hit 6 sixes. The adrenaline, the passion and the emotion it evoked in me set my path for the rest of my life, and it was after that incredible moment that I decided that I wanted to and needed to work in the sports industry.
It all started with a Tweet…
After matric I decided to study a BA in Sport Communications at the University of Johannesburg this was entry into the World of sports. In my 3rd year of studying my mother called me into her room and said:
“I’ve just seen this Tweet from SASCOC. It is calling for applications for the Ambassadors for the 2014 Youth Olympics”.
Well I went on to Twitter to find the tweet and link to apply. I found it and applied for an opportunity of a life time, an opportunity to travel out of South Africa and more importantly to work with the International Olympic Committee and Team South Africa.
Fast forward to November 2014, I was appointed as the Young Ambassador (now known as Young Change-maker) for South Africa.
Youth and Learning go Hand in Hand
It was my job to promote the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games, which was held in Nanjing, China in August 2014. Leading up to the games I went to Nanjing to attend the Young Change-makers Seminar. The purpose of the seminar was to introduce all the YCMs from around the world to each other and assist them in identify with the YOG DNA (Youth Olympic Games) which is the brand and power behind the games.
The Youth Olympic Games are run exactly like the Olympic Games with a focus more on Culture and Education through a program called Learn and Share. The program is run from the Youth Olympic Village were all the countries stay during the games. A section of the village was dedicated to running the program through interactive booths discussing anti-doping, managing dual careers and life after sports.
It was on return from China that the real work began
I started working with SASCOC and learning about what it takes to deliver Team South Africa. I must admit having to balance doing my honours degree (BA Hons Sport Management) and working on the Youth Olympics Games was a challenge. However I am grateful for my research group, Lectures and Department for their understanding and support during the balancing act of 2014.
The year flew by and it was time for Team South Africa to leave the shores of SA and head to China to make the dreams of some of our most talented young aspiring athletes come true. Although we only came back with one medal (Giselle Magerman 400m Hurdles) it was an experience of a life time.
Being a part of my first multi-coded sporting event was an unforgettable experience. The chance to watch Swimming then move to Gymnastics then on to Hockey in the evening was awesome.
As a fan of the Olympics it was incredible to be a part of the behind the scenes working with the IOC and Team South Africa.
It felt then and still does now feeling like a privilege to work with athletes and being a part of sporting history.
I have had the pleasure of following the careers of some of the athletes that were part of Team South Africa in 2014. The likes of Christopher Reid (Swimming) and Jarred Crous (Swimming) who qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games; Tyson Dlungwana (Hockey) and Nqobile ‘Bili’ Ntuli who went on to represent South Africa in the 2018 at the Commonwealth Games and Nathania van Niekerk (Swimming) who has now qualified for the 2019 FINA World Championships.
The 2014 Youth Olympic Games did not just start the careers of some of these athletes it also so began my career in Sports Management.
I began working at SASCOC in 2015 when I was hired as Team Preparation and Academy Systems Coordinator.
In 2018 my journey with the Youth Olympic Games came full circle when I was selected to be a part of General Team Management the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games.
My experience of coming full circle will all be revealed in my next blog.