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UWC’s Sport Skills for Life Skills launches Alumni Network Collaborative Event

Author: Lyndon Julius

Sport Skills for Life Skills (SS4LS) from the University of the Western Cape launched its Alumni Network collaborative event with the Umtshayelo Foundation (TUF).

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(Published -  12 October 2020)

Proteas Test batsman and Cobras cricket captain Zubayr Hamza says he got the best of both worlds at the University of the Western Cape – the support to study towards a qualification and also a shot at playing professional sport. He is currently in a BCom Accounting programme.

On Saturday, 10 October 2020, Hamza was part of a special launch that aims to bring current students together with notable alumni as mentors. The launch also coincided with a community event.

Sport Skills for Life Skills (SS4LS) from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) launched its Alumni Network collaborative event with the Umtshayelo Foundation (TUF). Face masks were handed over to TUF by alumni of both TUF and SS4LS in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town. TUF, founded in 2013,  is a non-profit organisation that focuses on poverty alleviation. 

The SS4LS programme was launched in 2000 and has seen success both on and off the field for the last 20 years. Advocate Nicholas Kock, founding member of SS4LS, still heads up the programme and has done so since its inception. 

While the programme focuses on helping UWC cricketers find a balance between studies and their sports career, it has notably also produced world-class physiotherapists and biokineticists. The Alumni Working Group (AWG) has been establishing the Alumni Network of professionals for the past few months. Many of these founding members are based across the world, including in England, Dubai and Guinea. 

"I am filled with pride to see how the young men and women of the SS4LS programme at UWC over the past 20 years have all come together to start a new journey to assist the less fortunate," said Advocate Nic Kock.

"I learn from these young men and women every day and it is a privilege to still be part of their lives. They show me what the future can hold for us in this country if we all come together and work for a common purpose."

One of the driving forces behind the Alumni Network group is Craig Williams. The former first-class cricketer, who hails from Athlone and currently resides in England, has welcomed how the SS4LS organisation has backed the idea of the Alumni Network.

"Earlier this year in May, in the SS4LS Alumni WhatsApp group, we had a discussion around establishing a link between the alumni and the current participants," Williams added when asked what inspired the establishment of the SS4LS Alumni Network. 

"The need to establish a mentorship programme was also seen as a very important goal that would allow current students to access the social networks of the alumni group. As an alumni group, this was one of the biggest drivers when looking to set up the Alumni Network."

At the launch, Hamza and former Cape Cobras and Dolphins spin bowler, Nkululeko Serame, shared what the SS4LS programme meant for their careers.

"The journey was a tough and lengthy one but the support I had from SS4LS was brilliant," Serame, an advocate who studied law at UWC, said.

"It was in that environment where I started to really understand the value of education, and that as a sportsman one’s career lasts on average till 35 to 40 years if you are lucky enough. I quickly understood that given the fact that retirement age is at 65, it was equally important to have an educational background to be able to have options in life. SS4LS made available to me not just quality sports training, fitness trainers, cricket, nutrition, gym and medical facilities, but also the necessary tutors if needed to make sure that I maximise my potential as an athlete but also as a human being."

Hamza, the first Proteas player to hail from UWC, said it was all about balance.

"The SS4LS has impacted me positively. It afforded me opportunities to study and play professional cricket at the same time," Hamza said at the launch.

"I was able to use the off season effectively to focus on perfecting my cricket skill but more importantly use the time to focus on my studies as well.”

Founding director of TUF, Mr Andrew Lamour, expressed his gratitude to the SS4LS and the Alumni Network for the  donation.

"The most important aspect of our work is the impact we make through our projects," said Lamour.  "Our slogan, "sweeping suffering away", is the intended result of our work - the world of our beneficiaries has got to be a better place to live in after we've been there.”​

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