Inspired teacher uses sport to motivate

2018-05-22 06:00
Children at Plantation Primary School were elated when Cape Town City FC coach Benni McCarthy visited their school last week.

Children at Plantation Primary School were elated when Cape Town City FC coach Benni McCarthy visited their school last week.

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Mervyn Amos is a physical education teacher at Plantation Primary School and is inspired to inspire those he oversees.

Amos also played soccer growing up and uses his network of days gone by in order to bring a sparkle in the eyes of children at the school.

Part of Amos’ soccer career overlapped with that of current Cape Town City coach, Benni McCarthy, who visited the school recently­.

“We grew up together, when he stayed in Hanover Park and I stayed in Lotus River, so we would see each other on Saturdays and Sundays,” says Amos, who is three years McCarthy’s senior.

“He was always there for us. We just needed to pick up the phone and talk to him, but like all the friends who are very close with him, we never want to ask him for money or to sponsor us with anything,” he adds.

Amos adds that despite McCarthy going on to greater achievements, they would always be in touch every time the former Bafana Bafana striker found himself in Cape Town.

“We can call him and meet up with him and we talk with each other as friends and reminisce about the days when we played in Hanover Park and how the gangsters were shooting in Cafda Village and Valhalla Park. We played together all around the Western Cape,” says Amos.

Through his connection to McCarthy, Amos has been afforded the opportunity to expose Plantation Primary learners to the world of professional football and show them the work that goes into the entertainment they witness on TV every weekend.

“I remember that they played a friendly in Stellenbosch and Benni (McCarthy) called me in the morning to say that I can bring the children to come through to Stellenbosch and watch the game,” Amos says, adding that the children have often attended Cape Town City training sessions at Athlone Stadium and Hartleyvale.

Amos adds that he uses the opportunity to discipline children who may need reminding of where hard work can take them.

“I don’t always take the soccer players. I am at a school, so I take the ill-disciplined children or those who don’t want to work. Then I take them to Benni (McCarthy) and tell him that those are the children who don’t want to listen or don’t want to work in school,” jokes Amos.

The children don’t know they are being taken on an excursion, but Amos says that this form of exposure has worked with his more challenging learners to the extent that they aim to achieve better results in order to earn another opportunity to see McCarthy and his boys in action.

“Every time when there is a game, the kids check and ask me about the games and if we are going to the stadium. The eagerness to watch the games is growing,” adds Amos.

He says he is not limited to exposing the children to soccer, and that he aims to bring more celebrated sports stars to the school.

“I am busy trying to get Wayde van Niekerk to come to our school. It is a bit tough, but we’re getting there,” he says.

While sport is not the only way out of a challenging life, he says that it does tend to keep children out of trouble.

“Sport helps a lot. I was a gruwelike laaitie and when I started playing sport teachers could curb me and I learnt my lessons, doing my schoolwork, and I started being obedient in class in order to earn all the perks of playing sport. I believe that if a kid is in sport, then he is off the streets,” he says.

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