Township trainer beams after athletes bag medals

2015-10-09 10:43
Jan Molefe and Mothohedene Moleya and Realeboga Seoposengwe. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Jan Molefe and Mothohedene Moleya and Realeboga Seoposengwe. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - Two youngsters from Munsieville township in Krugersdorp who qualified for the National Cross Country Championships last month returned home with bronze medals at the weekend, their proud trainer has told News24.

"We did well, the kids managed to come back home with 2 bronze medals, so we had a [good] trip. They made it into the top 5," Jan Molefe said.

Last week Thursday, during a public meeting hosted by Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Molefe stood at the front of a tent full of government officials and local residents. He told them he was a trainer and two of his athletes - Mothohedene Moleya, 12, and Realeboga Seoposengwe, 14 - had qualified to represent Gauteng at the National Cross Country Championships in East London.

He said the team had struggled to put together money for the trip and accommodation, but through fundraising they had managed to raise R10 000. This was only enough to get the team of four to East London and back with just enough to cover two meals a day during their stay.

He then begged those in the tent to dig into their pockets and give what they could to the team as pocket money for the trip.

His announcement was met with loud cheers, claps and a standing ovation from the proud residents who praised the two shy boys and their trainer.

Heavy criticism

Molefe's praise was short-lived as he met heavy criticism from Sports and Recreation MEC Molebatsi Bopape who told those in attendance that what Molefe did was wrong.

She said the sports council was given sufficient funds to identify young achievers in the province and to provide them with support. If the province was not aware of the boys, it meant their athletic club was not aligned with the sports council, she said.

After his return from the championships, Molefe said he was not the only trainer to struggle with getting access to sponsors.

"It's not just us, I was speaking to this other teacher from KwaZulu-Natal [at the national championships]. They also struggled.

"That guy had to go out and look for sponsors and he only qualified with one child. Imagine the costs of travelling from KwaZulu-Natal to East London without a sponsor. It's really tough out here," Molefe said.

During their stay in East London, Molefe said he received a call from an anonymous woman who told him KFC wanted to sponsor their meals.

"She asked me where we were staying and checked for the nearest KFC, then she gave me the address and told me to go to that KFC and speak to the manager.

"I got there, told the manager who I was and he told me he had been waiting for me and that he knew about us.

Constrained budget

"He asked me how many of us there were and wanted to know what we wanted to eat for dinner. I was so happy, but the only thing is I have no idea who it was that helped us.

"Even now I have no idea who that lady was, I don't know how to thank her."

Mogale City Mayor Koketso Seerane, who was also at the public meeting, had decided to buy the boys new clothes before they left on their trip to the championships.

"The Mayor of Mogale City bought the children clothes that very same day. When we were leaving, the boys already had new clothes," Molefe said.

Their struggle with getting funds or sponsors was deeper than many knew.

During their provincial qualifications held in Pretoria in September, Molefe told those at the public meeting last week that he and the boys had gone to bed hungry due to their constrained budget.

Despite this, his boys made sure they did not leave the national stage empty handed.

"What made me proud is that both of them had spent a week not doing any training because the physio-therapist had instructed them not to because they had injuries.

"They trained for [about] two days preparing for the nationals, and managed to return with two bronze medals," Molefe said.

Scholarship

Fourteen-year-old Seoposengwe had managed to score himself a scholarship which would see him move from Phathudi Primary school, in Munsieville, to Vorentoe High School in Westdene.

Vorentoe's girls Cross Country team won the national championships last year, while the boys team came 13th. The high school championships consist of 43 schools.

The school was also nominated in the School Team of the Year category at the South African Sports Awards last year.

Twelve-year-old Moleya would have to wait until he reached his final year of primary school to see if he would qualify for a scholarship as well, Molefe said.

When the boys arrived home, their parents were over the moon, Molefe said.

"Their parents were so happy. The older one's parents were telling me their son has always enjoyed running, but he's never made it this far until I took him and started training him."

Molefe, a centre manager at Munsieville's Readira Youth Development, said he only discovered the boys in mid-August and was impressed by their performance.

"Within the period of two months I had helped them qualify for the nationals. It's all about hard work."

He said all that had been achieved was through the grace of God.

"At the end of the day a child is a child, your responsibility is to show them the way. All of this is thanks to God, if God is for you nothing can be against you. It was God's work."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  good news

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