In early September 2023, business leaders from Guernsey’s financial sector assembled in Cape Town to rekindle ties with South African businesses and with sport for development programme CoolPlay.
A team from Guernsey Finance, along with 20 delegates from the island, were back in Cape Town to promote Guernsey’s financial services sector, and to raise further funds for CoolPlay after a successful inaugural visit in 2022.
Over R400K was raised for CoolPlay, which uses sport as the foundation through which to deliver valuable life-skills based on a specially crafted Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum, developed by child psychologist, Linda Bruce. Since its inauguration in 2013 the CoolPlay programme has become a trusted and valued partner of 19 low- and no-fee schools within the Western Cape.
Each week of every school term, there are 254 CoolPlay sessions taking place across the five designated areas. These are split between after school sport-specific sessions (rugby/netball or soccer) and in-school sessions during life orientation classes.
CoolPlay CEO, Tori Gardner, explained: “Consistent financial backing remains a significant concern for charities like CoolPlay. True transformation arises when partnerships are forged and nurtured. Last year we raised R400K in collaboration with Guernsey Finance, which enabled 267 children to play out their dreams on the sports fields of wider Cape Town. We are so grateful for their continued support and look forward to collaborating to make a meaningful impact in the years to come.”
Rupert Pleasant, the Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance, said that during the visit to Cape Town, his group had the chance to engage with CoolPlay participants, all aged between seven and 18, from communities such as District 6, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Kuilsriver, Stellenbosch, Ocean View, and Masiphumelele. They also met several CoolPlay Champions. These Champions, trained by CoolPlay, leverage the camaraderie of sports to hold meaningful dialogues and instill essential life competencies in the young learners.
Guests at Guernsey Finance’s gala event on 6 September were challenged to support CoolPlay by purchasing sports balls to be used within the CoolPlay programme or fund a learner for a year.
“Balls symbolise so much more than just sport in the CoolPlay context,” said Rupert. “These items hold immense meaning – as vehicles for learning, opportunity, and hope. Bring out a ball and you bring people together and offer an opportunity for fun with friends and improving physical health, while learning strategy and life skills, and exploring emotions with mentors like the CoolPlay Champions.”
Tori explained that CoolPlay Champions build conversations with the children around life skills as well as ball skills: “Something as simple as a ball can be what helps a young man focus on the poles rather than gang status, or could be the introduction to a group of friends for a young girl struggling with confidence.”
In attendance at the gala dinner was Nokulunga ‘Noks’ Mvandaba, previously a Champion of the CoolPlay programme. She was able to complete her tertiary studies, thanks to funding secured through the CoolPlay network.
Mvandaba is now the head of Grade 4 English at a prominent Cape Town School and a member of the CoolPlay Advisory Board. Her story is one that encapsulates the journey of many CoolPlay learners whose horizons are broadened through the programme. She is still passionate about supporting young girls from within her home community of Khayelitsha which she does by providing toiletry hampers and mentoring other Champions within the programme.
Rupert added: “Our ties with South Africa have historical roots, and as advocates of global solidarity, the Guernsey Finance initiative is driven to give back, especially after witnessing the commendable efforts of CoolPlay first-hand and gaining insight into their operational blueprint and governance.”