The netball coach lifting kids out of violence and poverty
Grace Mapfumo watched from the sidelines as her daughter pounded across the asphalt court in pursuit of the ball. A dedicated mother, Mapfumo often showed up in support of her daughter’s netball games. Over time, something began to stir in her – the desire to make a difference. Having played netball from a young age herself, Mapfumo realised she had the knowledge and the time to take the team further and volunteered to help out. CoolPlay, a Laureus Sport for Good project, recognised her natural connection with the girls and offered her the chance to participate in a formal coaching training that would enable her to teach the girls skills that extend beyond sport.
Gang violence, poverty and broken homes are just some of the dangers facing kids in Ocean View, Cape Town. Working with girls from three schools in the area, Mapfumo’s coaching has improved the students’ competitive ability and made a difference to their wellbeing. In addition to sporting instruction, Mapfumo initiates discussions with a particular focus on personal and social awareness, decision-making, and relationship-building. These are informed by the training from CoolPlay, which ensures that coaches are well-equipped to steer kids in the right direction, even off the court.
In the face of bullying and gender-based violence in schools, the netball players have seen their pass rates and confidence rise. Mapfumo’s support and guidance has a lasting influence beyond the games, and she’s become a mother figure to the players. Nurturing participation in team sports from a young age, Mapfumo is teaching the girls she coaches how to negotiate personal relationships, wins, and losses – and still come out on top.