The fight against substance abuse and crime among township youngsters will never be won as long as there are no good role models surrounding them.
This view was expressed by popular Cape Town basketball player-turned coach and model Vincent Ntunja, who represented the South African national basketball team on a number of occasions. He is currently the assistant coach of Cape Town Tigers basketball team.
On Friday Mr Ntunja took time off his busy schedule to speak to young boys from Samora Machel Primary.
Like many townships on the Cape Flats, Samora Machel is ravaged by substance abuse and crime.
This prompted deputy principal at the the school, Lumka Olayi, to invite Mr Ntunja to come to the school and give words of motivation to the youngsters.
Accompanied by Cape Town Tigers captain Pieter Prinsloo and player Lehlogonolo Tholo, Mr Ntunja pleaded with the youngsters to put education first and avoid falling into the trappings of peer pressure.
Making an example of how he managed to make a name for himself in basketball despite hailing from a crime-infested area Mr Ntunja said: “I was raised in the rough streets of Kakyard in Guguletu. I could have easily fallen into the trappings of the life of crime and substance abuse. But I chose to surround myself with good individuals who steered me in the right direction.”
He encouraged the youngsters to take part in sport as it had the potential of changing their lives.
“I am living testimony that sport can change a person’s life. Yes I passed my matric and went on the obtain a tertiary degree. But it was through sport that I managed to get inside a plane and travel the world and even had the pleasure of meeting my hero Michael Jordaan. Everything in life is possible and it doesn’t matter whether you were raised in an impoverished comminity but you can be whatever you desire to be,” he said.
School principal Mzukisi Yona told Vukani: “We need great role models like Ntunja to come and motivate these boys. They are growing up in hostile enviroments and some of them have been exposed to traumatic experiences as a result of crime. We appreciate him coming here and addressing them. It was also encouraging to see that the session moved them.”
Learner Siphelo Tshetsha told Vukani: “It was a pleasure meeting him and hear all what he had to say about following your dreams in life and not giving up. I was truly inspired by his talk. I also dream of becoming a popular soccer player one day. Now I strongly believe that I can achieve that goal.”