10 February 2014 –
Durban, February 10, 2014 – The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Change a Life campaign is pleased to announce that eight young canoeists from the Inanda area have qualified for the Dusi Canoe Marathon which takes place from February 13-15 between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
All trained by Dusi icon Martin Dreyer, the eight come from the Inanda area, which hosts the second overnight stop of the race. SAMSA, through its Corporate Social Investment programme, identified a squad of over sixty youngsters who started their basic introduction to canoeing, together with swimming and safety training, about three months ago. The squad includes Patrick Canham, Spamandla Shozi, Sifundo Gumede, Gcwensa, Mhlonishwa, Mmeli Ndimande, Nduduzo Shozi, Mhlonishwa Hlongwane and Nqobile Makhanya.
Hlongwana, a seasoned Dusi paddler with a 27th in last year’s K1 Dusi to his credit is among the squad. Ndimande and Canham bagged a 44th overall in the tough Campbell’s Farm to Dusi Bridge qualifier a few weeks’ ago and a 66th at the Inanda dam to Durban race last weekend.
It is the intensive grueling training and discipline which led the paddlers to proceed to the final stages of the competition where they will be competing with almost 1800 paddlers from across the country, with 44 foreign participants.
Sobuntu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, said: “Amongst our mandates is to promote water safety and small craft in oceans and all inland waterways in South Africa. Safety education is a key part of our functions, and the canoe race fits well with this new project. “We not only want to make canoeing accessible to all, but want to encourage more and more young people to be active, and follow a healthy lifestyle.”
Five schools initially took part in the programme, with immense interest shown from all. Some even could not swim but were prepared to battle rapids and take to the water. Today they have four crews, Mapitso Dlepu, the head of SAMSA’s Corporate Social Investment programme said the Change A Life programme also extended to supporting the athletes in other areas of their lives, from education to nutrition to getting their drivers licences, and learning key life skills.
The SAMSA Change A Life programme was more about personal growth and development than simply canoeing.
Dreyer added : “All these kids are self motivated. They want to try their best. They understand the nature of the challenge and they are doing it purely to achieve a goal that they have set themselves, not to impress anyone else.”
Issued on behalf of SAMSA, by FBI Communications