Sports Skills for Life Skills (SS4LS) is a sport/educational non-profit organisation (NGO) that assists primarily young cricket players from mostly marginalised communities gain access to further education. We have a strong bias towards the University of the Western Cape (UWC) where the programme has been based circa 1999, however we support young people at various institutions in the Western Cape. Other institutions are considered when UWC is not in a position to offer the appropriate course for the prospective participant.
Cricket has been the main sport focus of the programme. All the participants of the programme play their cricket at UWC under the auspices of the Western Province Cricket Association. SS4LS provides its participants access to expert coaching of international quality. Some of the coaches that have been involved in the past have been Andy Moles the former New Zealand national cricket team coach; Henry Williams former Proteas player; Robin Peterson former Proteas player; Allan Donald former Proteas bowling coach and IPL coach; Richard Pybus who coached Pakistan and Bangladesh national teams and Eric Simons former Proteas coach and Indian bowling coach.
Academically we attempt to ensure that the prospective participants enroll for a course most suitable for their vocational aspirations. Once enrolled the programme monitors the academic progress of each participant by checking on their class attendance, arranging subject tutors where needed, pulling the academic results of each participant every 6 months, and sitting down with each candidate during an academic debriefing session discussing their university experience. In order to strike a balance between the athlete’s sport commitments and his/her academic commitments the programme allows participants to play less cricket during exam time; we arrange practice times at more suitable periods during exam time; we interact on behalf of the athlete with our provincial association when exams and provincial duties clash; and we even arrange for alternate test/exam times where possible.
Ex-professional tennis player and sport psychologist Prof Paul Avis played a major part in initiating and developing our life skills component. Something he was very passionate about due to his experience on the ATP professional circuit. One of South Africa’s premier sport psychologist and who accompanied Team South Africa to the Sydney Olympics Prof Justus Potgieter built on this platform and still provides valuable input. Clinical psychologist, Charl Davids has been doing some amazing work with the participants of the programme over the last couple of years and made this aspect of the programme his own.
The programme provides access to quality healthcare to its participants through a mixture of professional volunteers and a range of interns that underpins this aspect of the programme.
In short, our programme attempts to identify the triggers within the human development index that could lead to improved performance on and off the sports field. We then insert these triggers into the programme creating an enabling environment for the holistic development for the athlete.