SAMSA AND CHANGE A LIFE UNITE IN CANOEING
By: Tony Manyangadze
1.8 million rand.
This is what the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is putting on the table to carter for a unique canoeing training programme titled SAMSA Change a Life Academy.
According to Sobantu Tilayi, SAMSA Chief Operating Officer, this initiative came to existence after SAMSA and Change A Life collaborated about three months ago in a bid to take the youth off the streets by keeping them occupied and also indirectly creating awareness about how best the community can utilise and preserve the ecology in the Inanda Dam. Thus to this end, SAMSA agreed to sponsor 1.8 million rand per year, for at least the next three years.
“The total project will be 1.8 million rand, per year for three years. The money covers buying the equipment, the safety gear as well as paying for food and transportation for the selected canoeist during the course of the year,” Tulayi said.
The academy so far has 12 candidates who are between the ages of nine-years to twenty-two-years. Tulayi also took the opportunity to introduce these candidates and even made a pledge that at the end of the training programme, his office is going to provide employment for one or two of these candidates.
Sibonelo Zondi, a globally acclaimed canoeist and winner of various trophies was also present to provide support to youngsters. Zondi, a product of Change a Life strongly feels that youth should really take initiatives like this one very seriously.
“To the youths, I believe everyone has a talent and if you try your best, you will one day be recognised. Canoeing is a good learning challenge and it helps to keep the youth out of trouble,” said Zondi.
His sentiments were also echoed by Mmeli Ndimane a learner from Mqhawe High School who is also one of the so far selected candidates.
“This initiative started three months ago but I have been paddling for nearly three years. I have benefited a lot from the training gear to food and also it keeps me healthy,” said the 18-year-old with a broadening smile.
Martin Dreyer, from Change A Life is a seven times Dusi champion and also is involved in training these candidates is very keen on taking this initiative to the highest level.
“So far we have 12 candidates and our target is to have 25 candidates to be at full swing. Now we are going to be completing the selection of the remaining 13 candidates and all we look for is attendance, performance and hard-work,” he said.