EP Athletics launches development project

RUNNING START: Eastern Province Athletics development officer Sithembile Mpako puts Missionvale Primary School pupils, from left, Leshay Demyn, 11, Azile Thondile, 14, Cleopetra Links, 12, and Leolin Baruns, 12, through their paces at an athletics development workshop at the school. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
RUNNING START: Eastern Province Athletics development officer Sithembile Mpako puts Missionvale Primary School pupils, from left, Leshay Demyn, 11, Azile Thondile, 14, Cleopetra Links, 12, and Leolin Baruns, 12, through their paces at an athletics development workshop at the school. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Former teacher conducting workshops at Bay primary schools

Eastern Province Athletics has launched a school development programme aimed at growing athletics among schools in the region.

Having seen a drop in the number of youngsters taking part in the sport, EPA have roped in former educator and runner Sithembile Mpako to help them implement the programme in schools around Nelson Mandela Bay.

Mpako said the aim of the programme was to keep children away from alcohol and drug abuse, and at the same time to encourage them that athletics could become a career and change their lives.

“We believe for learners to reach greater heights, we need to start from primary school,” Mpako said.

“When you look at the EPA structure there are few juniors in our clubs.

“We then realised that maybe later on we would have a big problem.

“We also want to encourage kids that sport – athletics in particular – can be taken as a career.

“Take into consideration Caster Semenya who has just won the Olympic gold medal in the 800m, remembering that she also won the gold medal in the World Championships.

“She has been doing very well this year as far as the Golden League [goes] – she won the Golden League in the meeting.

“Wayde van Niekerk, as well, is our shining example in terms of breaking the long-standing record of Michael Johnson from the 1996 Olympics.

“I believe we can develop more of those kinds of athletes from our children.”

Mpako said the development initiative was a centralised programme which is controlled by the EPA.

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