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SADGB loving life at HPC

01 Sep 2010

 

PRETORIA (1 September 2010) - At the end of last year, Free State teenagers Ntsoaki Mokoena and Zanele Mazibuko qualified for residential scholarships through the Department of Sport & Recreation to attend the High Performance Centre Academy (HPC) in Pretoria.

Taking a huge leap of faith, the South African Golf Development Board graduates moved from Phuthaditjhaba in Qwa-Qwa to the highly acclaimed golf academy, situated in the grounds of the University of Pretoria.

Now, eight months later, the teenagers are full of smiles when they talk about life at the HPC.

“We both come from single parent homes and the future was very uncertain for both of us,” said 17-year-old Mokoena. “We grabbed this opportunity when it was offered to us, because it was a chance in a lifetime. I don’t think either of us realized at the time, just how big the transition would be.

“In the beginning we were quite homesick and it took time to adjust to living in res. I struggled in school and we had to get used to the sports program, too.

“But the people here at HPC and at school were fantastic. I got extra tuition and after some months, I got caught up at school and Zanele is doing well, too.

“I think we are there now, because we are both doing very well and we love being here.”

Mokoena and Mazibuko share a room in one of the residences at the HPC. “It’s great that we are together, because we support each other,” said Mazibuko, 15. “It was tough to get used to the schedule, but we love it now. I think it has taught us great discipline.”

Their day starts at 05h30 with a session at the gym before school.

“After school, we have coaching sessions with Stefan (Matthysen) and after practice, there is studying and homework,” explained Mokoena. “Our days are very full, but we love it.”

The High Performance Centre is a controlled environment and encompasses world-class training facilities, medical services, accommodation, nutritional food, scientific expertise and research.

In addition to their school work and coaching, the teenagers are also enrolled in the athlete development program, which includes sessions with renowned eye vision specialist Dr Cheryl Calder, sports psychologist Maurice Sorenstam, nutrition specialist Nicky de Villiers and physicians. They also follow a strict exercise regime at the sports science gym.

“Coming from a rural background, I think that when the girls arrived, they were quite disorientated,” explained Matthysen, the junior golf programme manager and coach. “Understandably, it took them a couple of weeks to adapt to having their days mapped out in this way.

“They are very determined, though, and they stuck with it. At first, we had to work on the basics and help them to lose some bad habits. Once we got past those hurdles, they started seeing results.

“Since their arrival, their scoring averages have improved from the high nineties to lower eighties. They represent TuksSport High School’s third team in the Gauteng North High Schools league and they are regularly beating the boys in their division.”

Both teenagers say the program has given them independence, while golf has taught them respect.

“We have grown within ourselves,” said Mokoena. “Staying in residence have taught us to be by ourselves and has helped us to learn how to socialise.”

Mazibuko agreed. “We have made so many friends here in a short time,” she said. “This place is starting to feel like home.”

Cynthia Rayner, vice-president of Womens Golf South Africa, hopes the girls can stay in the program for at least another year.

“We are just seeing the results and we hope the girls can stay in the program next year,” said Rayner. “We hope that when the department of Sport and Recreation assess their progress at the end of the year, they will acknowledge the problems the girls had to overcome and the progress they have subsequently made.”

South African Golf Development Board’s development manager in the Free State, Ratha Motloung, agrees.

“Golf has changed their life,” Motaung said. “Their futures may have been uncertain, but through the program, they now could both have careers in golf. Both girls are role models and they have become leaders to their peers.”

ENDS

Issued on behalf of the South African Golf Development Board. For further information, please contact:

Lali Stander

082 990 7150