Busi Mazibuko never had the opportunity to play hockey at school and knew absolutely nothing about it. Her first encounter with the sport was as a student doing her practical at a school in Cape Town, when she saw a team in action and was fascinated. She fell in love with the fast-paced action and longed to get out there and give it a go. And although she would never be able to play back home in rural Bushbuckridge, her interest didn’t wane, and she followed the sport in as much as she could.
Plagued by a long stretch of unemployment, it would take Busi ten years before she had the opportunity to introduce hockey at a school. Keen to try something new, she chuckles about knowing very little, but putting the kids through their paces nonetheless. “We were playing, but not competing,” she explains. She knew she needed to find someone to help her, and Sportreach came at exactly the right time.
Sportreach is the new kid on the block, Penreach’s sports development programme targeting under-resourced primary schools. There’s abundance of raw talent in rural Mpumalanga, but many schools don’t have the necessary resources and facilities to include physical education in the curriculum. The initiative involves both coaches and scholars, and kick-started the hockey skills development of more than 300 scholars and almost 20 teachers during its first year.
Busi became involved through Sportreach’s Coach-to-Coach programme. “Skills, rules, health, fitness, nutrition: it taught me everything,” she says. “The kids started playing with me, we went to clubs, went to national development… suddenly we had other teams to compete against! It gave us opportunities.”
It didn’t end there. Last year, Sportreach approached Busi to manage the U13 Mpumalanga development team, made up of kids from all over the province. She was bowled over. “They said ‘we want to give you a chance, we want to take you with us’. Me? From knowing nothing to being the manager of a provincial team? It was the best experience of my life,” she says earnestly. Her team went on to win the finals, and she bubbles over describing the moment. “It’s a very exciting sport. Honestly, it was the best thing ever.”