“It takes a little time to get used to the culture. But if you get involved, it’s a wonderful experience.”
Hanna is volunteering for PLAY HANDBALL and Africa Jam in Cape Town for 2 months. Besides her work in primary schools, she also runs a handball program in the afternoon.
PLAY HANDBALL: Why is handball important for you and what did it gave/ gives you?
Hanna: Handball is for me an important balance to my everyday life. I love to power out in training after a hard day. Since I have been playing for so many years, the club/my team has become my second Family.
PLAY HANDBALL: How did you heard about PLAY HANDBALL ZA?
Hanna: I heard about Play Handball from a fellow player of my club who was also a volunteer in South Africa.
PLAY HANDBALL: Why did you decided to become a Handball Volunteer in South Africa?
Hanna: Handball is of little importance in South Africa alongside rugby and soccer. Very few people know this sport or how to play it. It was important to me to change this a bit and to offer the children an alternative to the established sports here. I also work in areas where it is not possible for every child to do sports. It is therefore all the more important to offer them a sports alternative that is accessible and safe for everyone.
PLAY HANDBALL: How long have you been now a handball volunteer in South Africa?
Hanna: I’m in programme since 6 weeks now.
PLAY HANDBALL: Tell us something about your volunteer experience so far?
Hanna: So far I have had positive experiences throughout. People make you feel welcome at any time. Within a very short time everyone in my community knows your name and greets you on the streets, that’s great.
PLAY HANDBALL: What was the most memorable experience?
Hanna: The most impressive thing for me was to see how happy the kids are about the training and how much they already know about the sport, thanks to the previous Play Handball volunteers in the community.
PLAY HANDBALL: What was the greatest challenge until now?
Hanna: The greatest difficulty for me was to understand and accept the South African way of life. Here everything runs very spontaneously and at short notice, long planning is not possible. For us structured Germans this is initially difficult, but you get used to it and learn how to deal with it. It is also not always possible to do the training the way you prepared it, because you never know how many children are there. In schools it can happen that you have to train up to 40 children at once. Moreover, the topic of safety was also unusual in the beginning. You first have to get used to the fact that you can’t move freely everywhere like you are used to in Germany. But the best thing is to follow the advice of the locals, then you also feel very safe.
PLAY HANDBALL: How do you experience the handball coaching at school/ community?
Hanna: I really enjoy training with the kids in the community. Especially when you see how fast the kids make progress and how much they like to play handball. The kids are really motivated and like to play all the time. It is sometimes difficult to explain to them that there is more to normal handball training than just the actual game. However, you cannot imagine the training like a normal training in Germany. Most of the time we play outside, but often there are no playing fields or goals, so you have to improvise a bit.
PLAY HANDBALL: Do you think your work has an Impact?
Hanna: I believe that in the long run, training only has a lasting impact in the afternoon programme. In the schools it is fun for the children, but the groups are too big to deal with each individual. Here I can only teach the basics. In addition, I usually only see the classes once a week or even every two weeks. In the afternoon we have a smaller group and we see each other daily, so that there is a completely different training possible.
PLAY HANDBALL: How is the life with a local South African host Family?
Hanna: Life in a host family is great. So you really get everything from the culture and that’s a good thing. You get a deep insight into the everyday life of the South Africans and you really learn a lot about life here. I have the privilege to meet two host families because I work in two different communities. It’s really great to see the differences within the population. I can learn a lot about South African cuisine from my host mothers and I show them our German cuisine, so not only I benefit from the exchange.
PLAY HANDBALL: Any other comments or sentiments you’d like to share
Hanna: I can really recommend every handball enthusiast to come to South Africa with Play Handball and have this unique experience, it’s worth it!