Township gymnasts return with medals

NEMATO Change a Life (NCAL) gymnasts returned from the two-day Eastern Cape Gymnastics Trials in Port Elizabeth recently with more medals than they could count.
“We won lots of medals, but we haven’t been able to keep count as to exactly how many,” NCAL founder Jan Blom said.
According to Blom it was a great event with participants at all levels, from beginners all the way to Olympic level, with some of the world’s best trampolining and tumbling on display.
But Blom expressed his disappointment that three coaching courses had failed in the last couple of months.
“Gaps in our knowledge, along with a lack of equipment, are slowing down the progress of our gymnasts,” he said. “But on the other hand, we already have a group of gymnasts competing at level 4, a great achievement for our young club.”

TRIPPING THE LIGHT GYMNASTIC: The members of the Nemato Gymnastics Club gave an impressive performance at the Eastern Cape Gymnastics Trial held in Port Elizabeth recently. Founder of the Nemato Change a Life foundation, Jan Blom, said he had lost count how many medals had been won by his team, there had been so many Picture: SUPPLIED

Rowing Club Eastern Cape Trials

The Port Elizabeth branch of NCAL received a boost with the start of Nemato PE rowing club, hosted by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Rowing Club.

It is the first sport NCAL is offering in Port Elizabeth. The club will start small with only four members, but NCAL sees great potential for growth in future years.

NCAL is preparing for the first competition of the season: its own Nemato Sculls Head. It is currently planned to take place on Saturday July 7. This long distance race takes place on the Kowie River, over the same distance as the annual Boat Races that take place there.


The Nemato Netball Club has been renamed Nemato Handball Club. The girls have been training for handball over the last couple of months but the club was only formalised at the AGM in May, with the approval of the new constitution.

“We have applied for affiliation with the Eastern Cape Handball Association,” said Blom. “As soon as that is approved, we can start participating in matches and tournaments.”


The NCAL fencing club is in full action holding five training sessions per week for its members.

It took time to establish how the new electronic equipment worked, but Blom said at least now they know now how to test and fix wiring.

Blom said the club was looking forward to participating in competition later in the year.

President’s Award

The President’s Award forms part of the NCAL empowerment programme. Boys and girls older than 13 can participate in this international awards programme, which includes skills training, community service, sport and an adventurous journey.

“We have 20 members active in the programme,” Blom said proudly.

Last year the first group of five members received the bronze medal. This year NCAL will have bronze and silver medallists at the award ceremony in September, and some have already started accumulating hours for gold.

Discovery Channel

After filming the Expedition Africa Extreme Challenge in and around Port Alfred last month, the Australian filmmaker stayed behind to film empowerment projects in the Kowie area, including Nemato Change a Life, for a programme produced for Discovery Channel.


Computershare’s Mike Thompson Change a Life Trust wants to build proper facilities for Nemato Change a Life, but finding land is a challenge as the plots in the township are too small.

NCAL has approached the municipality but reported the processes are slow.

“It took a couple of months to find out that land we applied for was already allocated for RDP houses,” said Blom. “Back to square one. Hopefully something will work out this time.”

Community Development

NCAL is excited that its programme manager, Chuma Nyendwana, has started a two year community development course at Rhodes University.

“This is a great opportunity for Chuma to gain further education and it is a welcome source of additional knowledge for Nemato,” said Blom.


The electricity supply at NCAL is a constant challenge, said Blom.

“We applied for our own connection to Eskom more than a year ago, and we are still waiting,” he reported. “Our neighbour allows us to connect to their electricity box, but something is wrong with the registration of that box.”

Eskom has apparently confirmed the problem but, to date has made no attempt to fix it.

“Only a few shops can sometimes supply us with prepaid electricity,” said Blom. “It often takes a few days before a shop is able to sell us electricity, leaving us in the dark for that period. This makes it difficult to run our organisation. We would like to move to solar and wind power as a solution, but finding funding for it is a challenge.”

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