By Precious Mupenzi

  • The Department of Social Development in Rustenburg Kloof and Olympia Park Stadium hosts a two-day programme to empower youth as catalysts for social, economic, and environmental progress, aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Discussions and masterclasses featuring figures like Ace Ncobo highlight the role of sports, arts, and community engagement in overcoming challenges and promoting active citizenship among the youth.
  • The programme emphasises inclusivity, addressing issues faced by youth with disabilities and offering mentorship opportunities, promoting resilience and empowerment.

In alignment with the United Nations’ focus on youth participation in sustainable development, the Department of Social Development commemorated Youth Month on 11th and 12th July 2024 in Rustenburg Kloof and Olympia Park Stadium, North West Province. Originally planned for Youth Day on 16th June, this event coincided with Mandela Month, leading up to Mandela Day on 18th July. The theme, “Actively embracing the socioeconomic gains of our Democracy,” underscored the importance of youth engagement in shaping a prosperous future.

Throughout the first day’s discussions, the youth exhibited eagerness to participate actively. Engaging panelists and each other, they explored diverse topics ranging from the transformative power of sports and arts to strategies for economic empowerment. The dialogue sessions were not only informative but also motivational, fostering a collective ambition to drive South Africa’s ongoing development forward.

Ace Ncobo, Premier Soccer League (PSL) General Manager and former FIFA referee, delivered an inspiring address, sharing his personal journey from poverty to success through football. Moved by his upbringing in impoverished conditions, Ncobo passionately advocated for seizing opportunities to combat poverty and uplift communities.

Addressing the gathering, Ncobo resonated deeply with the youth anthem “Zojika Izinto,” which encapsulates resilience and hope in adversity. Reflecting on his own hardships and achievements, he affirmed the song’s message that circumstances can improve with determination and opportunity.

During a masterclass session focused on inclusive sports programmes, Ronald Tekani Hlavangwani from Phaphazela Village, Limpopo, highlighted the challenges faced by youth with disabilities. As a tetraplegic individual, Hlavangwani underscored the need for accessible sports facilities and awareness of the health benefits for disabled youth. He advocated passionately for inclusive sports events that promote physical health, mental well-being, and social inclusion among this demographic.

Ncobo’s engagement extended beyond inspiration; he offered mentorship in personal branding to a young participant, exemplifying the programme’s commitment to nurturing future leaders. The event concluded with a renewed commitment from all participants to actively contribute to a more inclusive and prosperous South Africa.

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