South Africa: Transformation Focus for UCT Rowers

The University of Cape Town's (UCT) Rowing Club has joined forces with the Spirit Education Foundation in a transformation project to pass on their skills to youngsters who would not otherwise have the chance to enjoy the sport.

Not only are they teaching the teens the basics of rowing, but they are also working to educate them about the importance of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle.

The Spirit Education Foundation is a Cape Town non-profit organisation that offers educational scholarships to financially disadvantaged high-school learners in the Western Cape, helping to equip the next generation with the necessary tools to make a success of their lives.

Partnerships are created with the learners, their families and their schools to ensure they achieve optimally in the classroom, and further mentorship includes home visits, camps, workshops and outings.

Rowing practice

Rowing Club president Sebastian Julicher and several members first introduced the learners to the basics of rowing at the UCT Rowing Centre. There they got the hang of the rowing machines and learnt the basics of the rowing stroke.

"They raced over 500 metres and were all smiles coming in from the finish line."

The climax of the day was a 100 metre race between the learners, which ended with smiles, hugs and high fives as the teens celebrated their new skills.

They were then invited to race in an actual rowing boat at the club's annual internal regatta the following weekend.

"After arriving, they were treated to a crash course in rowing on the water and were then put into boats - with experienced rowers between them," said Julicher.

"They raced over 500 metres and were all smiles coming in from the finish line."

He added that the club has plans to develop this new relationship with the learners, with a view to building the sport in underprivileged communities.

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