People used to be impressed by Henny’s provincial tracksuit, now they are impressed by his dedication as a disabled sportsman in bringing sport to children and youth in his community.
When Henny, a young primary school learner was trained by a Norwegian volunteer from SCORE to play basketball and handball, he probably didn’t imagine himself in a few years later being selected to represent his province at the National Youth Games. Playing sport at a national level, his sports career showed great promise. Then one day on the way to training, Henny was involved in a car accident with injuries to one leg so severe that it had to be amputated. Despite this, Henny drew on his experiences with SCORE and was motivated to continue his path in sports. In 2010, Henny became SCORE’s first disabled sports exchange volunteer. He travelled to Zimbabwe to work in a rural community and help set up a formalised sport structure, similar to the structure through which SCORE had trained him. Motivated by his love for sport, he returned this year to his community Moshate, in Limpopo, to encourage children and youth to involve themselves in sport and to partake in sport at the national level as he did. “What I am doing now, is what I did back then,” he says.
“At the moment there are four provincial players from our community, all through SCORE progammes,” reports Henny. “Three of these players are girls and playing in basketball and volleyball. SCORE brought these sport codes to our community and there is always a lot of interest to play because these sport codes are neutral and unique.”
When Henny started playing basketball he admits, “All I used to think about was going to play basketball after school. SCORE activities were keeping me busy and I was so excited about the SCORE programmes. When I was selected by a provincial coach to join the basketball team, I was so happy to be representing my community and my province. In the same year, I was also selected for the provincial handball team, and people were so impressed that I was wearing our provincial colours.”
After the accident lost him his place on the team, Henny used the skills and knowledge he had developed as a player from attending SCORE workshops and helping organise community leagues to bring new opportunities into his life.
“I thought I was doomed, but I knew that even though I could no longer play sport, I wanted to be one of the people changing the face of sport. I wanted to keep busy all day long; I wanted to help other people participate. I already had management skills and I had knowledge of sport. I knew that life was out there and I could still be active in life. With SCORE in my life, it was the organisation that helped me develop as a sportsman and now must be the organisation that can help me, help other people.”
So Henny applied to SCORE to volunteer and after being posted to Zimbabwe, a place where no one knew of his former successful sports career and being a disabled person, Henny recalls, “People were looking at me and asking ‘does he play sport?’ and ‘what is he going to do?’ Sport has helped me overcome so many challenges, and after I started working, people accepted me. I was recognised by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture of Zimbabwe, he said to me ‘You have made your mark, you have changed perceptions and showed people that life doesn’t end with a disability.’”
With a mostly office-based role, Henny is now responsible for organising the logistics of community activities in Moshate. During the school holidays he has been busy recruiting new teams for the start of the new community league so that players are occupied during their time-off. Using his skills he is facilitates lifeskills workshops to young players and organising activities to increase sports participation in his community. “With the knowledge SCORE have given me, I am more alive, I understand relationships, I know what is needed of me as an organiser.”
Although Henny is longer an active player, he believes, “Sport is still my life, and I now know more about sport, so my dream is to study sports management because I know this is an area I will succeed in.”
Henny may no longer reach his dream to become a sports icon on the field, but what he is doing now is far more powerful. He is using sport to change lives and transform his own community. In one year, his hard work was recognised by a national leader, in a lifetime, he is sure to inspire the dreams of countless others and his recognition is sure to go far beyond the sports field of his community, where his dream began.
To help SCORE continue to train young sportsmen and women like Henny, donate to the SANGONeT’s “No Pain No Gain” campaign today, by making a donation at http://www.givengain.com/activist/55367/projects/1333.