Garden project feeds future sports stars

Orange Venge, Songezo Magoqoza full-time gardeners at Mokone Primary with Luxolo Ntsholo from the garden club.

“Siya Kolisi” enthralls spectators in the streets of Langa, with his tackles and accurate passes, but this is not the 28-year-old Springbok captain.

This is in fact Luxolo Ntsholo who has adopted the nickname.

Luxolo, 13, a Grade 7 pupil at Mokone Primary School will be jetting to Japan next year to represent South Africa at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Luxolo,who idolises Kolisi, refuses to let his background determine his future – the Bok captain from humble beginnings but dared to dream big.

His parents say the rugby bug bit Luxolo from a very young age. “My son loves rugby so much. He even makes his own rugby ball using old socks and plastic bags. He is convinced he will one day captain and coach the Springboks,” said his mother, Nokuthula Ntsholo.

His skills would not have been noticed had he not joined the Vusa Rugby and Learning Academy programme, of which Kolisi is an ambassador and where Luxolo is one of top performers.

The academy that brings about social upliftment to the children of Langa has seen its partnership with the Shoprite Group not only result
in regular meals for young pupils, but also the planting of two food gardens – one of which is at Mokone Primary.

Group CSI manager, Lunga Schoeman, said: “We are extremely proud to see the progress the school is making in maintaining their garden and the difference it has made in the learners’ lives.”

“To date, 80% of the produce in the school’s garden planted a year ago has survived, despite the intense drought conditions experienced in the Western Cape until recently,” he added.

Mokone Primary School’s food garden provides fresh vegetables including beetroot, cabbage, spinach, onion and cauliflower, all of which are used in the school’s nutrition programme with any surplus sold to community members.

The success of the garden has attracted the attention of the government, who now employ two full-time gardeners to help the school maintain and expand the project.

The school further established an EcoClub to improve learner participation, diversity and productivity. “Our hope is that by helping with cultivation and doing their part, the learners come to understand that they are making their own positive contribution to society. Through horticulture, they are learning important skills to help fight hunger and ensure food security for themselves and others,” explains Mokone’s principal, Dominic Raphahlelo.

“The Vusa programme is very helpful because we learn a lot in the classroom, the garden and on the rugby field. I want to study sports after matric and continue playing rugby,” said Luxolo.

National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) co-ordinator, Nosipho Gontsi, said: “ President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on all sectors of the economy to rally together to achieve the South Africa we all desire. Duly, we are very encouraged by the work that the Shoprite Group is doing to fight hunger in partnership with our schools and communities at large.”

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