National sports stars giving back

Cheslin Kolbe and Scarra Ntubeni

The national lockdown may have separated sports enthusiasts physically but non-profit Be The Difference has brought them closer with their online and outreach programmes. Since the non-profit organisation’s inception in 2014, they have aimed to make a difference through their sports, educational and nutritional programmes. The foundation’s volunteers and ambassadors have been submitting daily workout and homework videos. Over the past few weeks, national athletes such as Cheslin Kolbe, Justin Geduld, Damian Willemse, Scarra Ntubeni, Wayde van Niekerk and Craig Barry have volunteered their time and helped the foundation with its nutritional packages. They get sponsors on board and each player sponsors bread and milk daily. And, they also auction sports memorabilia to raise funds to feed those in need.  Founder of the foundation, Granthem Abrahams said the national lockdown separates them from the youngsters in their programmes, however, they make use of technology to empower them. “Our boys in our development through sport are on an eight-week programme currently where they have to submit a daily training programme on video, and before 1pm, Monday to Friday, submit homework,” he said. Abrahams said their weekly nutritional development feeding programme is continuing in Kraaifontein, Ravensmead, Strand, Franschhoek and Bloemfontein, as it did before the lockdown. He said they serve a minimum of 1 256 meals a day. Abrahams said the only way they can see a better South Africa, is if they become better South Africans. “I strive to serve hope,” he said. “We have a very good relationship with schools and most of our events are sports days, sports clinics, and sanitary towel drives at schools monthly,” he said. Abrahams said the foundation has five high schools involved in the Amara Project, an initiative to empower women. “These drives are built up towards the big Amara Project in August, in Women’s Month, where we pamper 50 matric girls of five different high schools. The outreach programme runs weekly and it forms part of the nutritional programme,” he said. “No one earns a salary at BTD Foundation so we have members and volunteers that offer up their personal time. Next week we will move into year seven of BTD Foundation and thanks to family, friends, volunteers, members, donors, and sponsors we can serve hope,” he said.

“The only difference you will see is the difference you make. So remember to treat people the way you would love to be treated,” said Abrahams. Full-time member, vice-president and Cheetahs professional rugby player, Craig Barry, from Kraaifontein, said they have extended their voluntary work in Bloemfontein. Barry said the sports outreach programs have helped youngsters from the area receive scholarships to the top schools and bursaries to universities.  “Trust the process. It might be difficult but there is always light at the end of the tunnel,” said Barry.  Springbok winger and Rugby World Cup winner, Cheslin Kolbe, from Kraaifontein, said together with the foundation, they are reaching out to communities daily who need help in terms of sponsors and donations. Following an outreach programme they had last week, Kolbe said seeing the youngsters faces and the elder’s eyes during the community’s struggle, hit home. “I honestly want to try and help where I can… If you can help in any way, you help feed a starving child, a mother trying to feed a household, a man that has nothing to bring to the table during this lockdown due to the economic activity or the impossibility of odd jobs. “Please, I urge you to help. If each one can feed one, no one will go to bed hungry. Together we can fight this pandemic, together we can be the difference,” said Kolbe.