Welcome back to our blog series here with LIFT4LIFE! Last week, we began to tell you about our summer adventures where our first stop was in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This week, we are moving a little more northeast to the city of Johannesburg, and we’ll be discussing our collaboration there with Antionette Kriel. Antionette is a world class lifter who graciously invited us into her home so that we could help her grow the sport in her area.
South Africa is, as we mentioned last week, a country that has had powerlifting for some time. However the sport has remained relatively niche and only reaches a few groups across the entire country. This limitation keeps it from growing and prevents the sport from reaching many of people that could benefit from it. Upon meeting with Antionette, we knew we had a chance to change this.
On our first day there, we planned to go visit a local school. We wanted to run a short clinic to see if we could get more high school age students interested in the sport. This particular school was Helpmekaar Kollege in the city of Johannesburg, and to many Americans it would be considered what we call a private school. Students from all across South Africa are exposed to a variety of sports from rugby, soccer, handball and many more, but powerlifting was entirely new to many of these students. Our strategy with talking to these young folks was to let them see how powerlifting can assist the sports they are already a part of. We know rugby for many men in SA is very much like football here in the states in terms of its popularity. So, discussing the benefits of strength training for rugby was our easy way into getting students interested in the sport. Our time spent at Helpmekaar, though short, was beneficial in that we were able to not only work with the students but create bridges with a school that could someday support their own powerlifting team.
Beyond Helpmekaar, we spent a great amount of time meeting with Antionette planning and strategizing on how best the South African powerlifting federation can reach the youth of the country and beyond. Next week, we are looking forward to sharing with you how our conversation quickly changed from high school to the growth of college powerlifting in SA!
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