4 November 2013 –
November 5, 2013, Inanda Dam, Durban – Seven times Duzi canoe marathon winner Martin Dreyer’s dream of training underprivileged youngsters from the Inanda area into the next generation of winners of one of the country’s most iconic races, the Duzi Marathon, is slowly becoming a reality.
And it is all thanks to the South African Maritime Safety Authority or SAMSA who have just stepped in with financial support for his project – still in its embryonic stages.
“I am very privileged and very fortunate to have received the financial support from SAMA. This has enabled me to spread my wings from the Valley of 1000’s project at Nagel Dam to this one at Inanda Dam where I have personally spent so much of my own time,” he said.
SAMSA’s support will translate into structure and focus for the project. It will mean life jackets, paddles, splash covers, coaching fees, a container and a rack for the canoes – proper equipment for serious and committed future Duzi competitors.
“This financial support will be of huge benefit to this ‘Change a Life’ academy. It will mean that the children can become role models to their community. Through training and their efforts of committment, discipline and hard work they can become the next Duzi winner,” he said.
Dreyer, who started his ‘Change A life” paddling academy in the Valley of a 1000 Hills after his epic win with Michael Mbanjwa in 2008, said he started out three months ago at the Green Corridor Adventure Centre, which has a base at Inanda Dam, using word of mouth to test the support of the local children.
Already there is a small but committed group of youngsters – aged between eight and 22 years old – who are showing up to learn this exciting and new skill.
“The difference with this project is that 50% of the youngsters here fall into the under 12 year-old category or “guppies” which means we will be focussing on the South African schools championships in April next year,” he said.
“Water safety is one of my key concerns so therefore we only allow small groups in the water at the same time. I am training up two other coaches from the same group who are assisting me to run the project as the training schedule will be hard – five days a week.”
Dreyer said he is drawing small pockets of youngsters from the different schools in the area where he will be able to identify talent through training.
Academy participants are rewarded with a weekly food parcel, sponsored by SAMSA, packed with the right nutrition to sustain the energy needed and fill the empty stomachs of those at home.
“When I told the principal from KwaGence Virginia Ngidi about the food parcels she said to me ‘what a great idea as the children in the area are hungry.”
Dreyer said, “It is time now to invest in others. It is not about me anymore. When you race you become selfish. I have stepped back from the race. After seven wins it is enough of a high to see the youngsters training.”
“I don’t want to be like the Lance Armstrong’s and Michael Schumacher’s of the world. They were on top of their game, retired and then came back and got beaten.”
During this week the local canoeing enthusiasts from the area donned their life jackets and trained for several hours in the run up to Saturday’s debut where they would show off their skills. The SAMSA media team was on hand to take photographs of the sessions.
Pictures for the enclosed feature can be accessed from here.
Issued on behalf of SAMSA, by FBI Communications
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