Back

Chance of a lifetime trip to England for young Soweto rugby coach

00014
If there is one lasting memory of this year's Rugby World Cup, it is how sport really can bring joy to people after they have suffered terrible pain.
This was the case for an entire nation following the All Blacks' victory over France at the World Cup Final, but it is also the case for a remarkably talented young rugby coach from Soweto in South Africa.
The name of this young coach is Bongiwe Nhleko, or 'Bongi' to her friends.
For Bongi, following a difficult childhood that included both hardship and tragedy, rugby has offered her chances in life she might never have imagined possible.
Now 21, Bongi was only five years old when her father died. She was then on raised by her grandmother and mum.
During this time, her love for sport, and rugby in particular, was a constant source of strength for her.
And it seemed her wish of becoming a qualified coach would become a reality just two years ago when she enrolled on a coaching course at South Africa's Exercise Teachers Academy.
However, tragedy once again struck before she could start her course when her mother suffered a stroke.
Bongi was left as the sole money earner for the family.
She was subsequently unable to finish her course because of the financial strain.
The Laureus blog first met Bongi back in August when Academy Member Sean Fitzpatrick visited her hometown Soweto for a visit to the Laureus-supported project based in the area.
And Bongi was doubly excited having recently received the incredible news that she had been offered the chance to travel to England to coach at Millfield School in Somerset.
When asked about how the opportunity came about, it becomes obvious that Bongi has a great sense of humour. She joked:
"How I got to coach at Millfield...? It was pure natural coaching talent. I'm joking. Well, the Millfield guys were a playing a tournament... around Soweto. They visited us where I was running a session...then after two months I received an email saying they want me to come to England!"
The opportunity was far too exciting to give up. Bongi told the Laureus Blog that she "had never been on a flight before or overseas. This was one of my dreams...but it came closer than I thought...and that was through sport."
If it wasn't clear enough how much hope and joy sport has brought to Bongi's life, then you only need to listen to her to realise how true this is.
Bongi also said: "Sport has done wonders in my life; brought happiness and brought dreams that I thought were impossible."
But she is also really excited about taking back what she has learnt to the rugby project in Soweto where she will continue to coach others. She said: "What I have learnt here [England] will come to great use to our project."
But rugby won't be the only lessen she teaches those back at home. Before signing off, Bongi was keen to pass on a life-changing lesson she has learned...
"If you first open your eyes, you will be someone in life, if you believe."
Be sure to check back at the Laureus blog for more stories about the people benefiting from sport at Laureus-supported projects throughout the world and follow on Twitter @LaureusSport